Warren Gatland has ruled himself out of coaching the British and Irish Lions for their 2025 tour of Australia and is backing Andy Farrell to take over the coaching reins of the famous touring team for that trip.
The Wales head coach has been in charge of the Lions on their last three tours and his endorsement of Farrell comes after the Ireland boss was named World Rugby Coach of the Year on Sunday.
This, after leading the men from the Emerald Isle to a Six Nations Grand Slam and a 17-match winning streak.
“A few weeks ago, I was asked by Nigel Walker, Wales’ director of rugby, if I was interested in putting my name forward to be head coach for the next tour in Australia in 2025,” Gatland wrote in his column for the Telegraph.
“It did not take long to get back to him.
“I told him I was not going to put my name forward. I told Nigel that I would have no problem if any of my support staff were to be asked to be involved as I would see it as a great experience for them.
“But I think it is the opportunity now for someone else to be head coach and Andy Farrell would have my backing for the job.
“You cannot deny what Ireland have achieved as a nation over the last few years. There is no doubt that Andy has done a fantastic job.”
New Zealander Gatland guided the Lions to a 2-1 victory against the Wallabies in 2013, a drawn series with the All Blacks in 2017 and was also in charge when they suffered 2-1 defeat against the Springboks in 2021.
Farrell was part of the Lions’ backroom staff for two of those three tours to Australia and New Zealand.
The 48-year-old Englishman was already Ireland’s head coach by the time of the Lions’ tour to South Africa in 2021.
Ireland were in excellent form coming into this year’s Rugby World Cup in France but suffered a quarter-final exit at the global showpiece following a 28-24 loss to eventual runners-up New Zealand.
Offers support to his successor
Gatland, who late last year returned for a second stint as Wales coach and also assisted Sir Ian McGeechan on the 2009 Lions tour to South Africa, offered to support his successor in an advisory capacity.
“If the next head coach wants to tap into my experiences from the last four tours, then I would still love to be involved in some way by passing on the knowledge and experience I have gained in trying to create harmony within a group of players from different backgrounds,” he added.
“For the Lions, it is the least I can do.”