Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Gatland humbled by OBE

Wales head coach Warren Gatland has spoken of his pride at being awarded an OBE

Wales head coach Warren Gatland feels "proud and humbled" after he was awarded an OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List.

Gatland will receive the OBE for services to rugby after leading the British and Irish Lions to a 2-1 victory on their tour of Australia and Wales to success in the RBS Six Nations last year.

Speaking from South Africa, where Wales face the Springboks on Saturday, Gatland said: "I was surprised really. It's a massive honour and I'm absolutely over the moon to be asked to receive that.

"It's great and I'm very proud and sort of humbled. I told my wife and that's been it really. It's been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster.

"As a Kiwi I know they did their Queen's Birthday Honours List a couple of weeks ago and that has a real New Zealand flavour. To receive something in the UK as a Kiwi is pretty special."

The Lions' victory in Australia was the team's first Test series win Down Under for 16 years.

Gatland came under heavy scrutiny after he controversially dropped Ireland centre Brian O'Driscoll for the deciding Test but his decision was vindicated as the Lions recorded a resounding 41-16 win.

The 51-year-old, who has previously coached Ireland, Wasps and Connacht, also guided Wales to their 26th Six Nations Championship, equalling England's haul in the competition.

"It's nice to be recognised, not just for yourself," Gatland said.

"There are a heck of a lot of other people that have given me the opportunity to be recognised in terms of the other coaches and the players I've been involved with as well.

"The support from the union and the people of Wales have made my time really enjoyable. It's easy and it feels very much home at the moment. It's like a second New Zealand.

"A few mates of mine have given me a hard time about getting an honorary doctorate so I'll probably get a bit of a ribbing about this one too."

Welsh Rugby Union group chief executive Roger Lewis added: "This is a well-deserved honour for Warren after his incredible achievements, especially in recent years as head coach of Wales and a victorious British and Irish Lions team.

"He is a credit to the game of rugby and a true symbol of the values we want all our players, coaches, volunteers and followers to live up to.

"Warren is a modest man, but I know he is extremely proud at being honoured and recognised in this way."

In December, Gatland was named coach of the year at both the BBC Sports Personality Awards and 2013 UK Coaching Awards.

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