British & Irish Lions
Wales coaching quartet set for Lions nod
October 17, 2008
Gatland (left) and Edwards are set to continue their working relationship with the Lions © Getty Images
Wales are set to provide four coaches for next summer's British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa next summer, according to reports.
Warren Gatland, Shaun Edwards, Rob Howley, and fitness coach Craig White are all set to be confirmed as part of the Lions' backroom team at an official announcement in Dublin next Wednesday. Wales head coach Gatland and his assistants Edwards and Howley have long been tipped to join the Lions coaching team that will be headed by Ian McGeechan and the Western Mail reports that they have been given the green light by the Welsh Rugby Union.
Final permission for Edwards' release is reportedly a matter for his Premiership club London Wasps but is considered a formality. White, who worked with Gatland and Edwards at Wasps, was part of Sir Clive Woodward's backroom team for the Lions tour in 2005 which ended in an infamous 3-0 "blackwash" at the hands of New Zealand. Neil Jenkins, Wales' kicking coach, is understood to be expected to tour with Wales next summer when they travel to the USA and Canada.
David Pickering, the WRU and Six Nations chairman, hinted at next week's announcement, commenting, "It's a great honour for anybody to be involved with the Lions. We are part of the Lions and it's part of our rugby package and culture. We have supported it fully for a number of years and we have a duty to support it now. That is the stance we always take with the Lions.
"We expect to receive a large financial contribution for the tour, so, commercially and from a business perspective, we are part of it. So, it's not just about taking but giving something to it as well. We have to be honest about that and we have to balance it with the huge obligations we have to Welsh rugby."
Pickering admitted the WRU are ready to draw up contingency plans for Wales' end-of-season tour. "We will have to have plans to replace those coaches for the Wales tour."