Outspoken New Zealand journalist Chris Rattue has claimed that fellow Kiwi Warren Gatland should have been named World Coach of the Year rather than England’s Eddie Jones.
Rattue, who once labelled Wales the ”village idiots” of World Rugby, believes that Gatland’s outstanding achievement in leading the Lions to a drawn series with the All Blacks over the summer should have earned him the gong.
Former Australia and Japan coach Jones has done a tremendous job with England since taking over the reins following England’s disasterous 2015 World Cup, leading them to two straight Six Nations and to 22 wins in 23 matches, including a 3-0 series win in Australia last summer.
But those achievements don’t seem to have impressed Rattue much, with the Kiwi highlighting the fact that Jones and his men missed out on a grand slam this season. Adding that the red rose often or should often win European rugby’s showpiece event he also describes them as European rugby’s ‘powerhouses’ and as ‘over-sourced heavyweights’ competing against ‘cut-price neighbours’ and an ‘Italian punching bag’.
Whilst acknowledging Jones’ excellent CV and that World Rugby had a really difficult choice to make in Monaco, he feels that Gatland who is unbeaten in two Lions tours following the 2-1 success over the Aussies in 2013, had been ‘robbed’ having ‘tamed’ the All Blacks, while Jones hadn’t had to face Steve Hansen’s men.
Writing in the New Zealand Herald, he said,
“This year’s choice was tough, but Gatland was robbed for my money. He tamed the mighty All Blacks, whereas Jones didn’t even have to face them“.
Emphasizing the size of the former Wasps and Ireland coach’s achievement in earning the draw despite such a demanding schedule which saw Gatland and his men play 10 games in seven weeks, he added,
“But he pulled a series draw out of a hat after his Lions were universally touted as cannon fodder in New Zealand, the hardest place to tour by far. Graham Henry called the 10-match assignment a ”suicide mission”.
Rattue also points out the Lions’ poor record in New Zealand historically, with Britain and Ireland’s finest having prior to the summer’s tour having only won a solitary series in eleven attempts, to once again outline Gatland and his men’s fantastic achievement.
He also claimed that the 1971 team, which included legends such as Willie John McBride, Barry John and Gareth Edawards, who achieved that great feat, had faced a ”poor” All Blacks team.
Whilst also lauding the Wales coach for getting his big selection calls right in the shape of Jonathan Sexton and Owen Farrell’s selections as dual-playmakers, and for deciding to stick with veteran Alun Wyn Jones, despite the talismanic Jones’ below-par display in the first test.
Before claiming that if press favourites such as 2003 World Cup-winning coach Clive Woodward, Eddie Jones or former All Blacks coach Graham Henry had managed such a feat, they would have been crowned World Coach of the Year.
His claim that Gatland should have been crowned the World’s top coach is valid.
While Jones deserves a huge amount of plaudits for his excellent work with England, and the man who Jones said should have won the award-Steve Hansen, continues to do outstanding work with the World Champions, Gatland’s feat was truly a remarkable one.
With limited preparation time and a phenomenally tough schedule, he managed to bring four nations together quickly and earn a draw against the World’s best team.
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