Gatland reveals England approach
January 28, 2011
Current Wales boss Warren Gatland was previously a target for the Rugby Football Union © Getty Images
Wales boss Warren Gatland has revealed he was approached by the Rugby Football Union for both the director of elite rugby post and the role of national coach.
The Kiwi coach, whose side entertain England in the opening clash of this year's Six Nations next Friday, was first approached by the RFU in 2006 as they looked to fill the elite director role - a post eventually filled by Rob Andrew. At the time, Gatland was back in his native New Zealand with Waikato following a success-laden spell with English Premiership side London Wasps.
"I was offered the job that came to be Rob Andrew's," Gatland told The Guardian. "I flew to Sydney to meet a headhunter hired by the Rugby Football Union: he was speaking to a couple of Australians as well. He talked about the job and what it involved, but I said I preferred hands-on coaching and was not ready for an administrative role. I then got a telephone call saying I could turn the role into whatever I wanted but it was not for me."
Gatland was contacted again the following year with Andrew reportedly keen to talk to the former Ireland coach about the England job. The call came during the 2007 Rugby World Cup and in the wake of their crushing pool defeat to South Africa.
"I do not have an agent, which is why they called me direct," said Gatland. "I said I would have no problem with Andrew calling, but he never did. I still do not know if it was because he didn't want to or because he was hamstrung at the time. I did not have time to think about it because Wales soon lost to Fiji and Roger Lewis [the Wales Rugby Union chief executive] was calling me."
A recently announced re-structuring of the RFU will see Andrew's role scrapped with a performance director set to be appointed to act as current manager Martin Johnson's boss. But Gatland, who hit the headlines earlier this week with a verbal volley aimed at England hooker Dylan Hartley, has questioned the move. "It is not a position I would be comfortable with if I were in charge of England," said Gatland.
"I report directly to Roger, which is as it should be, and if the team is not doing well he wants to know why. It can potentially become stressful when someone is questioning you about selection or a gameplan who perhaps ought to be in charge himself."
Looking ahead to the Millennium Stadium showdown, the Kiwi added fuel to the war of words by predicting how their rivals will play. "England will play a very direct game, scrummaging, driving line-outs and competing hard at the breakdown," said Gatland. "I think it will be Flood, Hape, Tindall, Cueto, Ashton and Foden in their back line, with Youngs at scrum-half, They will miss Lawes, Moody and Croft. Shaw and Palmer will probably be the second rows and Fourie, Easter and maybe Worsley, who did a man-marking job on Jamie Roberts two years ago, could be at six.
"That's where England were at the time, trying to do whatever to get a result, but I think they will try to play a bit more rugby this year. They had a good win over Australia and have a dangerous back three. Northampton have been very good but conservative and I am not sure they have used Ashton and Foden right. We have to make sure that we recognise Foden is a threat, as is Youngs. We can match them in the loose forwards and second row and we have to do well in the scrum. Dan Cole rarely plays 80 minutes for Leicester and England may have to make a change there during the game."
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