Warren Gatland, appointed coach of the British and Irish Lions to South Africa in 2021 and who has coached Wales to three Six Nations grand slam titles in his ten years abroad, will coach the Chiefs in next year’s Super Rugby competition.
Radio Sport in New Zealand reported on Friday that Gatland has signed a four-year deal to return to Waikato for the 2020 Super Rugby season. The news was later confirmed to media by the club.
He will however be granted ‘leave’ from August next year to prepare for and coach the Lions and return to take over the Chiefs reins again in 2022 and 2023.
The Chiefs were third in the New Zealand conference in this year's Super Rugby competition. They lost to the Jaguares in their quarterfinal play-off in Buenos Aires last week.
Gatland has previously expressed an interest in returning to coach in New Zealand again after the World Cup if there was an opportunity and of the Chiefs appointment said he grateful for the chance to coach a side he has a strong connection to.
The opportunity probably arose because of the resignation of Colin Cooper who quit the Chiefs on Thursday with a year still on his coaching contract, said he was leaving for the long-term good of the New Zealand Super Rugby team.
♦ Gatland has been the head coach of Wales since 2007, leading them to three Six Nations grand slam titles, and coached the Lions on tours of Australia and New Zealand.
He also coached the British and Irish Lions to a series win in Australia in 2013 against Robbie Deans' Wallabies and to a drawn series with Steve Hansen's All Blacks in New Zealand in 2017.