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Gatland extends Wales contract

16th December 2013 14:13

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SKY_MOBILE Warren Gatland Wales

New deal: Warren Gatland

Wales and victorious British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland has extended his contract with the Welsh Rugby Union until 2019.

Gatland has been in charge of Wales since 2007, with his previous deal due to run out in 2015, and guided the Lions to their first tour triumph for 16 years in June and July over Australia.

The New Zealander has won two Grand Slams with Wales in 2008 and 2012, and was named BBC Sports Personality Coach of 2013 on Sunday.

The announcement ensures Gatland will take Wales to the 2019 Rugby World Cup, and will thus become the first coach to lead the nation to three World Cup competitions.

"I am pleased and honoured to be able to announce that Warren Gatland will remain head coach of Wales until after the Rugby World Cup in 2019," said WRU Chief Roger Lewis.

"He has undoubtedly proved that he has the rugby expertise, the passion and the commitment to prepare and inspire our teams to play with the utmost skill and pride for the jersey.

"We now have a meticulous and professional coaching structure in place which Warren must take credit for creating.

"By signing him for a further four years we have ensured that the systems now in place will continue to develop for the future of the international game in Wales.

"Of course we considered all the scenarios available, but it became increasingly and abundantly clear that the best option for Wales is Warren Gatland.

"The process which led to this moment began in earnest more than a year ago and it has taken an incredible amount of hard work and negotiation to make sure we got this right for Wales and for Warren.

"I have great respect for Warren and I know how he lives and breathes rugby and is totally devoted to achieving success for a nation he now calls home from home.

"He makes a lot of sacrifices to ensure he knows everything there is to know about the talent available to him and the other selectors and we can rest assured that the future of the Welsh team will now remain in safe hands.

"In recent years we have created one of the best elite training facilities in the world at the WRU National Centre of Excellence with some of the finest strength, conditioning and medical experts in the game."

Gatland himself was delighted to have committed his long-term future to Wales.

"I am proud and delighted to have been chosen by the Welsh Rugby Union to take charge of Wales teams for the next two Rugby World Cup tournaments," said Gatland.

"I have chosen to stay in Wales because of my confidence in the players we have, the coaching structures we have developed and the succession plan of talent we now constantly update.

"I know the other major rugby nations take us seriously as opponents who can play excellent rugby and that inspires me to take this group of players even further.

"There is an incredible amount of hard work ahead but, with the backing of the Welsh Rugby Union, the national squad now has the means to deliver what the Welsh public want.

"We have strong support systems, the international player pathway structure and the WRU National Centre of Excellence is a fantastic facility.

"Our best players now get developed within a totally professional structure and the backroom team we have in place boasts some of the best people around in their areas of expertise.

"I am looking forward to the challenge and I am extremely proud of the honour I have in taking Wales into the next two Rugby World Cups."

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