Wales coaching trio picked for SA Lions tour

Wales’s Six Nations Grand Slam coaching trio of Warren Gatland, Shaun Edwards and Rob Howley will all work under British and Irish Lions head coach Ian McGeechan on next year’s tour of South Africa, it was announced in Dublin on Wednesday.

New Zealander Gatland, previously the coach of both Ireland and Wasps, will work as forwards coach to McGeechan, his successor as rugby director at English champions Wasps.

Edwards, deputy to both McGeechan and Gatland at club and international level respectively, will be the Lions’ defence coach with Howley, a former Wasps, Wales and Lions scrumhalf, in charge of attack on the 10-match tour.

“Lions tours are unique as we have to meld together players from four different countries [England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales],” said McGeechan, who coached the Lions to a 2-1 series win on their 1997 tour of South Africa.

Then, as now, the Springboks were the reigning world champions and McGeechan, a Lion as a player in the 1970s, added: “There has to be a unified, common approach on the tour with coaches and players working together.

“We therefore have to create a positive environment and appoint the right personnel to help devise the right strategies to take on the Springboks at home.”

“I am delighted with today’s [Wednesday’s] appointments,” said the former Scotland back, “and confident that we can come together quickly as preparation time is always short.

“Working with coaches and personnel that I know well and who have successful track records and experience ensures that we will get the best out of the players and provide the greatest chance of winning the Test series.”

Tour manager Gerald Davies, an outstanding wing for both Wales and the Lions in the 1970s, added: “Today is an important milestone in our preparation. The personnel announced today have the proven skill sets to ensure that the Lions squad is well prepared for the tour to South Africa next year.”

He added: “The cosmopolitan make-up of the management team reflects the modern nature of rugby and they, like me, are well aware of the challenges that await us.”

The Lions tour is due to start with a match against a Highveld XV at Rustenburg on May 30 with the first of three Tests against South Africa at Durban on June 20 before they face the Springboks again on June 27 in Pretoria and July 4 in Johannesburg.—Sapa-AFP


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