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Gatland Contemplates Wales Decision Amidst Unforeseen Rugby Complications

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Warren Gatland

‘If I’d fully understood, I might have chosen a different path’ – Gatland

Warren Gatland candidly reveals that his decision to rejoin the Wales team as head coach might have been different had he grasped the full scope of issues plaguing Welsh rugby.

The current season has been fraught with difficulties, making it one of the most tumultuous periods in Welsh professional rugby.

Despite the challenges, Gatland expresses optimism that these hardships might fortify his team for the upcoming World Cup in France this fall. However, the coach feels the departure of young talent Joe Hawkins has been a particularly severe blow.

During the Scrum V podcast, Gatland confessed his surprise at the complex situation he stepped into when he resumed his position as head coach in December.

A wave of controversies swept over the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU), including a sexism scandal, the resignation of the chief executive, coach dismissals and suspensions, and threats from players to strike due to contract turmoil. Meanwhile, the national team has been struggling, regional failures continue, and the financial situation remains bleak as the four professional clubs grapple with stringent austerity measures.

Gatland confessed his lack of awareness when he first returned: “Upon joining the Six Nations, I was in the dark. I didn’t comprehend the extent of the issues plaguing rugby and the team. Had I known, I might have chosen a different path.”

Looking forward, he said, “Welsh rugby is set to endure more financial strain. The national team’s previous successes may have concealed the issues. Now, however, the problems are in the spotlight, which offers us an opportunity to address them.”

Player Departures

In May, Gatland unveiled a training squad of 54 players, four of whom have since withdrawn. A fifth, Rhys Carre, has been released.

While he expected Alun Wyn Jones’ retirement after continual talks since the Six Nations, injuries left Justin Tipuric feeling unprepared for a World Cup spot. “Justin expressed that his body was not 100%, doubting his ability to endure World Cup preparation,” said Gatland.

Among the departures, the ineligibility of Hawkins following his move to Exeter Chiefs deeply disappoints Gatland. The 20-year-old centre was Gatland’s first-choice number 12 during the Six Nations, but the young talent cited the “turbulence” in Welsh rugby as a reason to leave Ospreys.

Regarding Hawkins’s departure, Gatland said, “That’s the one that truly disheartens me. We had envisioned him as a potential number 10 for the future.”

Players like Rhys Webb and Cory Hill have also withdrawn from the squad. Yet, Gatland suggests Hill may rejoin for next year’s Six Nations.

World Cup Prospects

With the departure of three former captains, Gatland is contemplating a co-leadership approach for France 2023. Nonetheless, he maintains an optimistic outlook for Wales’ chances at the finals.

Despite challenging circumstances, Gatland insists, “Being written off and having our backs against the wall is exactly the motivation we need.”

An updated preliminary Rugby World Cup squad for Wales has also been released.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Warren Gatland

What issues has Warren Gatland mentioned regarding Welsh rugby?

Gatland referred to a multitude of issues including a sexism scandal within the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU), the resignation of the WRU’s chief executive, coach dismissals and suspensions, threats from players to strike due to contract problems, struggling national team performance, regional failures, and an overall grim financial backdrop affecting the four professional clubs.

Did Gatland have knowledge of these issues before rejoining as Wales’ coach?

No, Gatland admitted that he was unaware of the extent of the problems affecting Welsh rugby when he returned for his second stint as head coach.

Which player’s departure has hit Gatland the hardest?

The departure of Joe Hawkins, a young centre, has been the most difficult for Gatland.

Who are some of the players who have withdrawn from Gatland’s training squad?

Alun Wyn Jones, Justin Tipuric, Rhys Webb, Cory Hill, and Rhys Carre have all withdrawn from Gatland’s training squad.

What is Gatland’s stance on the upcoming World Cup?

Despite the setbacks, Gatland remains optimistic about the World Cup. He suggests that the difficulties can motivate the team and has an open mind towards the possibility of co-leadership in France 2023.

More about Warren Gatland

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RugbyFan88 June 14, 2023 - 1:11 pm

Wow, didn’t realise the situation in welsh rugby was this bad, feel for gatland he’s a great coach.

SportLover101 June 14, 2023 - 4:39 pm

Ouch…sounds like a real mess. hope they can get it together before the world cup!

WelshWarrior June 14, 2023 - 7:26 pm

gutted about hawkins, really hoped he’d stick around for the world cup. 🙁

SquadSupporter June 14, 2023 - 8:02 pm

tough times but well pull through always do. The welsh never back down from a challenge!!

DragonsDen June 15, 2023 - 1:22 am

seems like gatlands got a lot on his plate, but hes always been good under pressure. Backing the boys all the way!


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