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Rugby headlines as Warren Gatland warned he faces ‘perfect storm’ after finally leaving hotel quarantine

Here are your rugby morning headlines for Tuesday, August 24.

Gatland warned he faces doubters amid ‘perfect storm’

Warren Gatland faces a nervy year ahead after his Chiefs team blossomed in his absence, according to New Zealand Herald journalist Gregor Paul.

The Lions coach finally left hotel quarantine on the weekend after a lonely 14-day stint in New Zealand that offered much time for reflection.

Gatland penned a four-year contract with the New Zealand outfit back in 2019, but written into that deal was a one-year hiatus in which he was allowed to coach the Lions.

The Chiefs had a horrific campaign in Gatland’s maiden season, not winning a single game under him in 2020, while the coach suffered defeat in South Africa with the Lions this summer.

And Gatland has been warned he might face some unrest in the land of the long white cloud if things do not pick up under his leadership next year.

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“Out of sight, out of mind,” Paul told Off The Ball.

“There’s been a perfect storm of things you couldn’t make up.

“What I mean is, he was hired by the Chiefs at the end of 2019 on a four-year contract, where he was given permission, because he had already signed up to the Lions, to coach year one, 2020, with the Chiefs.

“He disappears to coach the Lions, the Chiefs have to bring in a head coach. In 2022 Gatland comes back and takes over.

“What happens if Gatland has an absolute howler?

“In 2020 Gatland didn’t win a single game in Super Rugby Aotearoa, the Chiefs lost all eight games and had a horror season.

“Gatland disappears to go off with the Lions. A new coach comes in, Chiefs make the final and are a completely different team under the new coach.

“In 2022, Gatland is going to come back, bump the coach back out and take over again.

“That’s just a crazy contract. That’s not Warren’s fault, the Chiefs signed off on that, it’s just nuts that they did it.

“But there will be a bit of angst about why that’s being allowed to happen.

“The fact the Lions have had a horror show as well, has not really made anyone think, ‘Why have New Zealand Rugby gone out on such a limb to hand such an incredible contract to this guy?’

“It doesn’t feel right.”

Final day for SA Rugby Erasmus submissions

Today is the final day for submissions from SA Rugby in the Rassie Erasmus misconduct case.

Erasmus will face an independent misconduct hearing after his hour-long video rant about the officiating in the first Test between South Africa and the Lions.

The Springboks’ director of rugby launched an astonishing tirade at how the match, which was won by the tourists, was handled by the officials and was particularly critical of referee Nic Berry.

A World Rugby statement read: “Match officials are the backbone of the sport, and without them there is no game,” the governing body said in a statement.

“World Rugby condemns any public criticism of their selection, performance or integrity which undermines their role, the well-established and trust-based coach-officials feedback process, and more importantly, the values that are at the heart of the sport.”

Erasmus, who has controversially combined his role with that of water carrier during the series to date, suggested among other things that Berry had treated Springboks skipper Siya Kolisi and Lions counterpart Alun Wyn Jones differently.

The statement continued: “Having conducted a full review of all the available information, World Rugby is concerned that individuals from both teams have commented on the selection and/or performance of match officials.

“However, the extensive and direct nature of the comments made by Rassie Erasmus within a video address, in particular, meets the threshold to be considered a breach of World Rugby Regulation 18 (Misconduct and Code of Conduct) and will now be considered by an independent disciplinary panel.

“World Rugby has reminded the management of both teams of the importance of this area and their obligations regarding the values of the sport.”



South Africa director of rugby Rassie Erasmus

All Blacks boss signs new deal

New Zealand head coach Ian Foster has been given a contract extension through to the next Rugby World Cup in France.

The new deal was announced overnight and Foster’s assistants, including former Scarlets boss Brad Moarr are also expected to re-sign.

Since taking over from Steve Hansen, Foster has overseen eight wins, two losses and a draw. Under his guidance, the All Blacks have won the Bledisloe Cup twice and The Rugby Championship. He has also blooded 13 new players.

He will now remain in post until at least 2023.

“Foz has built an outstanding culture and environment in the team with an inclusive and collaborative approach and maintained a steady, clear focus on our goal of being Number 1 in the world again,” said NZRU CEO Mark Robinson.

“There is no doubt Foz and his team are performing extremely well in trying conditions and we are pleased to send a strong signal of support to create certainty in our environment and allow the management team and player group to plan for the future.

“On behalf of NZR and the Board, I want to congratulate Foz and his team and wish them all the best for the rest of this season and beyond.”

Talk of moving Rugby Championship to Europe quashed

The Rugby Championship is back on and will be played in Queensland, ending any talk of the rest of the competition being held in Europe.

The third Bledisloe Cup Test between Australia and New Zealand will be played in Perth on September 4, a week later than originally planned, before the remainder of the tournament is moved to Queensland.

The match was shrouded in doubt after the All Blacks refused to travel following an outbreak of the Delta variant of Covid-19 in both Australia and New Zealand.

However, the New Zealand Herald now report that the All Blacks will base themselves in Queensland after this weekend’s Bledisloe Cup encounter.

South Africa and Argentina will also quarantine in Queensland, according to the report.

This comes after reports that tournament organisers were drawing up plans to bring the entire competition to cities in Europe, with Cardiff thought to be considered for a double-header.

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