Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Gatland reveals RFU approach

Warren Gatland

Warren Gatland has revealed he was approached by the Rugby Football Union before taking charge of Wales in 2007.

Gatland claims he met with an RFU-appointed head-hunter in Sydney in 2006 about taking up the role of elite rugby director, which eventually went to Rob Andrew.

The former Ireland and Wasps boss says he was then contacted about the England coach's job during the 2007 Rugby World Cup, although he never met Andrew.

Gatland's comments provide yet another intriguing sub-plot ahead of next Friday's opening RBS 6 Nations clash between Wales and England at the Millennium Stadium.

"I flew to Sydney to meet the head-hunter," Gatland told The Guardian. "He told me about the job but I said I preferred hands-on coaching and that I was not ready for an administrative role. The RFU called back again and said I could turn the role into whatever I wanted.

"It turned out I was offered the job that came to be taken by Rob Andrew."

Gatland said he was contacted again, this time about the coach's job, after England made a dreadful start to the 2007 Rugby World Cup with a 36-0 pool defeat to South Africa.

"A couple of agents called me directly. They said Rob Andrew would like to call me and I said that would be no problem. He never rang and I don't know if that was because he did not want to or because he was hamstrung at the time," Gatland said.

England rallied in the latter stages of the World Cup, beating France and Australia to reach the final where they lost again to the Springboks.

By the time Brian Ashton left his position as England coach after the 2008 Six Nations, Gatland had already taken charge of Wales.

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