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TOKYO (AP) — Warren Gatland guided Wales to four Six Nations titles, three Grand Slams, two Rugby World Cup semifinals, and the No. 1 ranking.
It would be heartbreaking, he said, to see that platform wasted.
Gatland’s 12-year tenure at Wales ended on Friday with the 40-17 loss to New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup bronze match.
He leaves a legacy that has more to do with perception than presentations.
Gatland took over Wales in December 2007, inheriting a team in a slump after a pool-stage elimination at the World Cup, including losing to Fiji. It was close to rock bottom for a proud rugby nation. But he’s returning to his native New Zealand with Welsh rugby in a much better place.
“I really hope for what we’ve achieved in the last 10 to 12 years — and we feel we’ve earned respect and put respect back into Wales as an international team — that the new coaches coming in continue to build on that,” Gatland said. “Because what we’ve done, what we’ve achieved, it would break my heart if Wales went back into the doldrums.”
While Gatland and his assistants Shaun Edwards, Rob Howley, and Robin McBryde are vacating, new coach Wayne Pivac will have practically the entire squad, including inspirational captain Alun Wyn Jones, to defend the Six Nations title from February.
“They’re a great bunch of men to work with,” Gatland said. “
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