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February 15, 2013

Gatland's alarming gaffe

on 02/15/2013


Lions boss Warren Gatland builds some bridges with England coach Stuart Lancaster © Getty Images

Every time Warren Gatland opens his mouth this week he re-affirms the extent of his naivity. It is desperately sad that someone with so little understanding of the make-up of British and Irish rugby and the history of these nations has been put in charge of the Lions tour.

No matter how brilliant a coach he is - 11 defeats in 12 in internationals against Australia, for the record - week by week his appointment is looking more daft. The appointment of fellow New
Zealander Graham Henry as Lions head coach in 2001 was a gaffe and, by appointing from outside the Lions nations again, that gaffe has been repeated. There are many Lions veterans better equipped to run the show.

Gatland's initial blunders this week, in an interview with the Evening Standard, exposed an anti-English streak common among many of our sporting brethren around the globe. No harm in having that streak, but crass stupidity to announce it to an English newspaper during the key period prior to selection of a team from four nations. Coming out again to back-track and explain his remarks just adds fuel to the fire.

After mixing with England players, he said he was "blown away.....by the interest in, and desire to be part of, the Lions experience." Wake up, man.

Gatland is apparently frustrated by the attention his interview generated. In what type of sand has he buried his head all his rugby life? He says it still amazes him that out of a one and a half hour interview, "a 13 word headline is all that people read and remember."

It's the Lions, stupid. It doesn't amaze the rest of us.

There are teenagers experiencing the first horrible realities of social networking websites with infinitely more nous than Gatland has displayed.

The period of the Six Nations, immediately prior to Lions selection, should be a period of quiet contemplation for Gatland and his assistant coaches. No interviews. Let the pundits speculate without input from the tour management while interest and emotions are at their peak.

How ironic that the nub of Gatland's initial mumble was his desire to avoid the media circus that certain England players might attract.

In 2005, Sir Clive Woodward was rightly mocked for taking Alastair Campbell as media hit-man on tour. The mockery stemmed from his choice of man, not the need for the role. Campbell didn't so much divide opinion, as unite it against his being there.

This time a strong media man from the world of British and Irish rugby is essential, and some gaffer tape.

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Comments

Posted Paolo on 02/16/2013

Ah the British and Irish Lions... That festival of rugby every four years where four countries get together to hate the English. Unusual I suppose that the early cheerleader this time is the Lions coach.

Anyway, I'm all in favour of Gatland picking a minimum of England players... That will give them a summer off, so that they can focus on the real business of trying to win RWC 2015.

Posted Edward Pye on 02/16/2013

What garbage is this? How can you question his knowledge of the Lions Nations? how many other coaches have coached 2 of the national teams as well as a highly successful club team from another country - there is no one more qualified for the job and if hacks like you and other journalists are going to attack him and take his words out of context then the lions are in for another tour from hell.

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Writer Bio

Richard SeecktsRichard Seeckts’ rugby career consisted of one school match where he froze on the wing and despite no substitutes being available he was withdrawn from the game at half-time for mocking the opposition’s line-out calls. Thereafter Richard and the sport agreed active participation was not the way ahead, but that has not prevented him from avidly writing about and watching the game. He now contributes his random observations to the Crooked Feed blog on ESPNscrum.com

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