So it is official Warren Gatland will coach the British and Irish Lions to South Africa in 2021.
This will be the third time that the Wales coach have been put in charge of the Lions.
It was not a secret much that he would get the job after Eddie Jones and Joe Schmidt showed early on they are not interested in coaching the team for the tour to SA.
Gatland is yet to loose a tour after winning the tour to Australia in 2013 and play to a draw against the All Blacks.
Gatland will start the process as coach on 1 August 2020 until the Lions complete the tour in 2021.
He was part of the 2009 party that came to South Africa and lost the series in dramatic fashion when Morne Steyn kicked a last minute penalty at Loftus.
This may be sweet revenge for the New Zealander come 2021 and he will know what challenges lies ahead for his team.
“I’m hugely honoured and delighted to lead the Lions again,” said Gatland.
“It is exciting and a great challenge to coach the best players from the four Home Nations. The Lions rightly have a truly special place in the game and I jumped at the chance to be involved again when I was approached about the role.
“South Africa is a special place to play rugby. They have some of the most iconic stadiums in the world which will be packed full of passionate fans, and the Springboks have shown in recent times that they are back to being one of the dominant forces in the game.
“Having toured there in 2009 I know the scale of the task ahead of us – playing in South Africa presents a number of unique challenges such as playing at altitude, while the Boks will always be physical, aggressive and highly motivated.
“History tells you it’s a tough place to tour, but I am 100 per cent confident that we can go there and win – I would not be here if I thought differently.
“I’m delighted to now have everything in place to begin full-time in August 2020 as that gives me the best possible chance to plan for South Africa, but for the time being my focus is entirely on the Rugby World Cup and delivering a successful campaign for Wales.”
Gatland is at the moment the longest serving international coach in the world starting as Wales coach in 2008.
He has won three Grand Slams with Wales and reached the World Cup knockout stages twice.
- Connacht (1996-98)
- Ireland (1998-2001: 38 Tests)
- Wasps (2002-05: 3x Premiership titles, 1x Heineken Cup)
- Waikato (2005-07: 1x Air New Zealand Cup)
- Wales (2007-19: 4x Six Nations titles, 3x Grand Slams, Rugby World Cup semi-final and quarter-final, 114 Tests to date)
- British & Irish Lions: 2009, 2013, 2017
– 2009 – Assistant coach (forwards)
– 2013 and 2017 – Head coach