Gatland extends Wales deal
Gatland extends Wales dealSHARE
Warren Gatland has extended his contract as Wales coach until the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
This is the second extension of the contract between the WRU and the New Zealander who was originally appointed as head coach of Wales in 2007.
That initial contract covering 2007 until 2011 was extended in 2010 until after the 2015 World Cup.
Today's further renewal will ensure Gatland will be the first coach to take Wales to three World Cup competitions.
The announcement is being made as Gatland is celebrating his success in receiving a clutch of major accolades about his world class prowess as coach.
On Sunday he was made the BBC Sports Personality Coach of the Year just a week after being named the Wales Sport Awards Coach of the Year while days before that he was named UK Coach of the Year at the Sports Coach UK national Awards.
Gatland will now continue to coach Wales for the next six years working alongside the WRU Performance and Development teams to ensure a robust player succession plan continues to identify and nurture the international stars of the future.
The announcement has been timed to ensure he can focus completely on preparing his squads for the intense international fixture schedule which lies ahead of the 2015 World Cup and the planning through to 2019.
WRU Group Chief Executive, Roger Lewis, declared: "I am pleased and honoured to be able to announce that Warren Gatland will remain head coach of Wales until after the World Cup in 2019.
"He has undoubtedly proved that he has the rugby expertise, the passion and the commitment to prepare and inspire our teams to play with the utmost skill and pride for the jersey.
"We now have a meticulous and professional coaching structure in place which Warren must take credit for creating.
"By signing him for a further four years we have ensured that the systems now in place will continue to develop for the future of the international game in Wales.
"It is so important that we achieve continuity at the highest level which is why we have negotiated our Wales international touring fixture schedule right through until 2019.
Lewis explained that they had considered other options but were happy to continue with Gatland at the helm.
"Of course we considered all the scenarios available, but it became increasingly and abundantly clear that the best option for Wales is Warren Gatland.
"The process which led to this moment began in earnest more than a year ago and it has taken an incredible amount of hard work and negotiation to make sure we got this right for Wales and for Warren.
During the Six Nations tournament Gatland will become the longest serving coach of Wales.
He said: "I am proud and delighted to have been chosen by the Welsh Rugby Union to take charge of Wales teams for the next two World Cup tournaments.
"I have chosen to stay in Wales because of my confidence in the players we have, the coaching structures we have developed and the succession plan of talent we now constantly update.
"I know the other major rugby nations take us seriously as opponents who can play excellent rugby and that inspires me to take this group of players even further.
"There is an incredible amount of hard work ahead but, with the backing of the Welsh Rugby Union, the national squad now has the means to deliver what the Welsh public want.
"We have strong support systems, the international player pathway structure and the WRU National Centre of Excellence is a fantastic facility.
"Our best players now get developed within a totally professional structure and the backroom team we have in place boasts some of the best people around in their areas of expertise.
"I want to personally thank the WRU and the Welsh rugby public for the fantastic support the national squad enjoys and I aim to return the compliment by devoting all my professional energy to the success of our national team in the years ahead.
"I am looking forward to the challenge and I am extremely proud of the honour I have in taking Wales into the next two World Cups."