Gatland extends Wales stay

2010-10-18 12:53

Cardiff - Warren Gatland will remain as Wales coach until after the 2015 Rugby World Cup after agreeing a four-year extension to his contract with the Welsh Rugby Union.

New Zealander Gatland has been in charge of Wales since taking over from Gareth Jenkins following their dismal World Cup exit at the hands of Fiji in 2007.

In Gatland's spell as coach Wales have won the Triple Crown and the Six Nations Grand Slam (2008), and became the only Northern Hemisphere nation to defeat a Tri-Nations country when they defeated Australia in 2008.

There had been speculation that Gatland was set for a return to his native land after next year's World Cup in New Zealand, with many believing he would succeed Ian Foster at the Chiefs Super Rugby franchise.

But Gatland believes the relatively youthful nature of his squad will allow Wales to head into the 2015 World Cup in England with high hopes.

Gatland, who will overtake Clive Rowlands as Wales' longest-serving coach should he see out his new deal, said: "I am proud and delighted to have been chosen by the Welsh Rugby Union to take charge of the Wales team until the conclusion of the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

"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, all fully resourced and supported by the WRU.

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

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

"We have a powerful agreement with our Regions, the international player pathway structure is starting to pay dividends and the WRU National Centre of Excellence is a fantastic facility.

"Our best players are now 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 made no secret of the family reasons which have made me consider returning to the southern hemisphere, but it is a measure of how devoted I am to Wales that I want to stay.

"I want to personally thank the WRU and the Welsh rugby public for the fantastic support the national squad enjoys and I aim to return the compliment by devoting all my professional energy to the success of our national team in the years ahead.

"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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