‘Clumsy’ Warren Gatland clarifies ‘inflammatory’ comments on Welsh rugby’s ‘sinking ship’

Colin Newboult
Warren Gatland Wales head coach v England SN 2024 - Alamy.jpg

Wales head coach Warren Gatland.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland has addressed his criticism of Welsh rugby where he described the domestic game as a “sinking ship”.

The 60-year-old’s comments came ahead of their Six Nations clash with Ireland where he was asked to compare the two systems.

At the moment, the Irishmen are thriving at both provincial and international level, but the story is very different for Wales.

Regional coaches unhappy

However, he has since received criticism from the regions, including Ospreys head coach Toby Booth, who felt Gatland was being “a bit inflammatory.”

“I don’t think it was completely levelled at us [but] some of it was a bit inflammatory and maybe a little clumsy,” Booth said.

“Everyone’s entitled to an opinion. It provoked a reaction and if the reaction gives us energy to make positive change, then we’ll see what happens.”

Following the debate within Wales after Gatland’s comments, the New Zealander has moved to clarify his viewpoint.

“Probably the difference between us and Ireland at the moment is they have got their systems and structures in place and we’ve got a little bit of a way to go,” Gatland said.

“It wasn’t a criticism of coaches. I know how hard they are working in terms of the regions, and how hard they are trying.”

Despite some of the criticism he has received, Gatland is pleased that his words have stirred debate within Wales.

Honesty the best policy

“Probably all of the regions, if they look at their structure and their support staff, they have probably got a couple of holes and things that they are working to hopefully put right for the future,” he added.

“I keep saying that the impact of the right environment, the right people and the right facilities will have so much more of an impact for us long-term than one or two players will do in a squad.

“The pleasing thing for me is that it has raised discussion. At least people are talking about it. My concern was if we don’t talk about it and focus on these areas, we will carry on doing what we’ve been doing for years and having the same results.

“I have always tried to be honest. I’ve always tried to give an honest answer or an opinion. It doesn’t always mean I am right.”

READ MORE: Warren Gatland urges regions to ‘forget about the players’ to save ‘sinking ship’