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Outgoing Wales coach Warren Gatland already plotting the Boks’ downfall

South Africa's head coach Rassie Erasmus (R) shakes hands with Wales' head coach Warren Gatland.
South Africa's head coach Rassie Erasmus (R) shakes hands with Wales' head coach Warren Gatland.
Image: Odd Andersen / AFP

Outgoing Wales coach Warren Gatland is already plotting the Springboks’ downfall when he brings the British and Irish Lions to SA in 2021.

First‚ though‚ he must oversee his last match in charge of Wales at this Rugby World Cup when they have to contest the deeply unpalatable third place play-off with New Zealand at Tokyo Stadium on Friday.

Then he returns to New Zealand for a coaching gig with the Chiefs before upstaging the Springboks on home soil becomes his priority with the British and Irish Lions.

First things first though.

“For me‚ it’s my last game in charge against the All Blacks. It will be monumental.

"As a coach‚ it’s the only team I haven’t beaten with Wales. It would be nice to be able to achieve that.

“Then I’ll look with some excitement at the challenges ahead for me‚ going back to coach in New Zealand with the Chiefs.

"Then I’ll be back in 12 months or so with the Lions to maybe get some revenge on South Africa‚” said Gatland with a grin following his team’s 19-16 semifinal defeat to South Africa on Sunday.

It will be some battle.

Already Springbok coach and SA Rugby’s director of Rassie Erasmus declared his hands on involvement in that series.

Whether someone else holds the head coach job at the Boks or not‚ this is an assignment Erasmus craves.

Of course‚ should his team go on to win the World Cup by beating England in the final on Saturday he will pretty much get what he wants from his bosses.

It will also sooth their conscience in paying him a purported R6m per annum.

Wales‚ having briefly played themselves into the number one position in the world rankings‚ will walk away from this tournament having still not reached a World Cup final.

They came close in 2011 when they had to yield to France in Auckland and they ran the Springboks desperately close in Yokohama.

Still‚ Gatland can reflect on a career in the Wales coaching box that brought him several highs‚ mostly north of the equator.

He is one of Wales’s most decorated coaches with four Six Nations Championships‚ three of which were won in Grand Slam fashion.

As coach of the British and Irish Lions on tours to Australia and New Zealand he has lost just two of his six Tests.

“It’s important that you’re humble. I thought South Africa did well tonight and they deserved to win the game. As a coach you have to take that on the chin.

“You’re disappointed but it’s important that you recognise when another team has played well in a close game‚” said Gatland.