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Page last updated at 18:16 GMT, Thursday, 16 October 2008 19:16 UK

WRU backs Gatland for Lions duty

Wales coach Warren Gatland
Wales coach Warren Gatland is tipped to be part of the Lions backroom staff

The Welsh Rugby Union has allowed Grand Slam winning coach Warren Gatland to be part of the Lions management backroom staff next summer.

BBC Sport understands the involvement of assistant coaches Shaun Edwards and Robert Howley have also been ratified at a WRU board meeting on Thursday.

Head coach Ian McGeechan's Lions management team will be officially unveiled in Dublin on Wednesday.

The Lions will tour world champions South Africa next year.

Gatland revealed on the BBC Sport Wales' Scrum V programme last month that he had had an informal discussion with McGeechan about a role on next year's tour.


Talks had been taking place behind the scenes between the WRU and the Lions committee over the past few months, with Gatland and his assistants hot property after Wales's Six Nations success.

Concerns have been raised over Gatland's involvement because of the detrimental effect on Welsh rugby during Graham Henry's spell in charge of the Lions in 2001 when he was also Wales coach.

But supporters of Welsh involvement point to the fact that McGeechan will be head coach this time round and hail the interest in Wales's trio as a tribute to Welsh success.

"It is a tribute to them to coach on a Lions tour," said former Wales international Adrian Hadley.

"But I don't think it's good for Welsh Rugby Union's point of view as they've got a tour going elsewhere.

"Who is going to coach the Welsh team in their absence?"

Wales, without their Lions stars, are due to tour USA and Canada next summer.

And as Gatland, Edwards and Howley are set to be away on Lions duty, Ospreys head coach Sean Holley is a leading candidate to take charge of Wales in North America.

Wales captain and back-row Ryan Jones is one of the leading contenders to lead the Lions on the pitch, although the playing squad and skipper will not be selected until towards the end of the season.

see also
McGeechan eyes potential Lions
06 Oct 08 |  Scottish
McGeechan given Lions coach role
14 May 08 |  Rugby Union
Lions tour 2009
13 Apr 08 |  Rugby Union
History of the Lions
02 May 08 |  Rugby Union
BBC Sport Wales coverage
23 Mar 08 |  Wales
Rugby union positions guide
05 Feb 07 |  Laws & Equipment

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