Warren Gatland has been appointed as Head Coach of the British & Irish Lions team, who will tour New Zealand next year with Rob Howley becoming Wales Head Coach in his absence.
As confirmed at a press conference in Edinburgh on Wednesday 7th September, Gatland has been named Head Coach for a second successive Lions tour and has been seconded from his role with the WRU from September 1, 2016, through to the conclusion of the 2017 Lions tour.
Howley takes up the role of Wales Head Coach, with full responsibility for the senior team, with immediate effect and first up for the former Wales captain and his experienced coaching team is the Under Armour series this November.
Howley, joined Wales as Assistant Coach (Attack) in 2008 and has previously led Wales for spells as Head Coach in 2012 and 2013, the later resulting in Wales clinching the 2013 RBS 6 Nations title under his guidance. He first took up the Head Coach role in a home fixture against the Barbarians in June 2012 and followed that by leading Wales on the three-Test tour to Australia in Gatland’s absence through injury. Howley was also in charge for the first two Autumn games later that year before reverting back to the role for the title winning Six Nations campaign in 2013.
WRU Group Chief Executive, Martyn Phillips, said:
“We would like to congratulate Warren on the appointment and the honour of leading the British & Irish Lions for a second consecutive tour. The appointment is recognition of Warren’s standing in the game and we are proud to support his role.
“We are delighted to appoint Rob as Head Coach of Wales for the period that Warren is away. Rob is a very experienced international coach and forms part of one of the most experienced coaching teams in the international game. Added to this, we have a very experienced squad of players, with a strong leadership group and we believe that combination gives us a strong basis on which to perform for the season ahead.
“We considered a range of options domestically and overseas when contingency planning for this eventuality and determined that Rob represents the optimum appointment for Wales.
“Rob’s experience and relationship with the Regional coaches affords the opportunity for a joined up approach, which will be of an important benefit for the game in Wales.
“The opportunity for coaches to continue to develop and learn is critical for our future success. It is important we have a strong Welsh contingent to our coaching team and that learnings on the international stage benefit the game here in Wales.
“These appointments allow our coaches to, not only use their experiences but to continue to develop at the very top end of the game.
“I know Rob is excited and will thrive and learn from the experiences that the role will bring.
Warren Gatland said:
“I am honoured to be appointed Head Coach for the 2017 British & Irish Lions tour to New Zealand.
“I really enjoyed the experiences of the 2009 and 2013 Lions tours and believe once again I will benefit as a coach from the experience in 2017.
“I am very grateful to the WRU for their support and agreeing the secondment to the role.
“Rob’s appointment is great news for the squad. We have an experienced management team in place and Rob’s International experience as a coach and his desire to continue developing is a great mix to drive the squad forward.
Rob Howley said:
“I’m delighted, proud and extremely excited to be named Wales Head Coach for this period.
“I would like to congratulate Warren on his thoroughly deserved selection and the honour of being named Head Coach for a second successive Lions tour.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of being Head Coach in 2012 and 2013 and I’m excited to have the challenge once again and I would like to thank the WRU for this opportunity.
“We kick off four back-to-back matches in Cardiff with Australia first up on November 5 and not only is the Under Armour series important for us on the field, the 2019 RWC seedings will be decided upon post 2017 Six Nations, so each match is vitally important to us looking forward and ahead to that competition.”
Wales matches in November at the Principality Stadium are as follows;
vs. Australia (Saturday 5th November – KO 2.30pm)
vs. Argentina (Saturday 12th November – KO 5.30pm)
vs. Japan (Saturday 19th November – KO 2.30pm)
vs. South Africa (Saturday 26th November – KO 5.30pm)