Gatland is just the second person after Sir Ian McGeechan to take charge of the Lions for three consecutive tours
Warren Gatland has been named head coach of the British and Irish Lions for the tour to South Africa in 2021.
Gatland is just the second person after Sir Ian McGeechan to take charge of the Lions for three consecutive tours.
It means the former Ireland and London Wasps boss will complete the set of Lions tour destinations following a series win against Australia in 2013 and a draw with New Zealand four years later.
The 55-year-old will step down as Wales boss after this year’s World Cup in Japan, having established himself as one of the game’s finest coaches.
He is expected to assume responsibilities at least 10 months to a year before the tour begins.
Since taking charge of Wales in 2007, he has masterminded four Six Nations titles including three Grand Slams, the most recent coming this year, as well as and leading them into the semi-finals of the 2011 World Cup.
Gatland will coach against Wales in the country’s first match under Wayne Pivac, after agreeing to lead the Barbarians on November 30.
“I’m hugely honoured and delighted to lead the Lions again,” said Gatland. “It is exciting and a great challenge to coach the best players from the four Home Nations.
“The Lions rightly have a truly special place in the game and I jumped at the chance to be involved again when I was approached about the role.
“South Africa is a special place to play rugby.
“They have some of the most iconic stadiums in the world which will be packed full of passionate fans, and the Springboks have shown in recent times that they are back to being one of the dominant forces in the game.
“Having toured there in 2009 I know the scale of the task ahead of us – playing in South Africa presents a number of unique challenges such as playing at altitude, while the Boks will always be physical, aggressive and highly motivated.
“History tells you it’s a tough place to tour, but I am 100 per cent confident that we can go there and win. I would not be here if I thought differently.
“I’m delighted to now have everything in place to begin full-time in August 2020 as that gives me the best possible chance to plan for South Africa, but for the time being my focus is entirely on the Rugby World Cup and delivering a successful campaign for Wales.”