Why should the Lions tour start this weekend?
Gatland believes the key to avoiding any future conflicts of interest would be to create a Lions board of independent directors.
“I’m not saying there weren’t good people on the board who wanted the best for rugby and for the Lions to succeed, but there’s no doubt in my mind that some people were slightly in conflict,” he added. “In my opinion, if you are on the Lions Board of Directors, your role and responsibility is to do 100% the best work for Lions.
“The reason I say that is that I was prepared not to be the Lions manager, if that was the best decision for the Lions and rugby. I wasn’t being selfish in saying that I wanted the tour to take place last year so I could go to South Africa.
“It wasn’t about me, it was totally about what was best for the Lions, the tour and financially for the game. There was really a lot at stake here. I don’t realize Probably not service in regards to 2025 with these reviews, but I’ve always tried to be honest with my opinions.
“I’ll probably look for a job overseas – I might end up in the UK”
And what about its future? “I am contracted to the New Zealand Rugby Union for the next 12 months and have enjoyed my role as Director of Rugby with the Chiefs,” added Gatland, whose 12-year tenure with Wales included four titles of the Six Nations, including three Grand Slam tournaments.
“After that I will probably look for another role overseas. I loved my time as a young coach in Ireland [with Connacht and then as head coach of the national side] and my time with Wasps and, of course, Wales. It was quite difficult, but people made it special for me in Wales. I could end up in the UK.
“There’s a lot more pressure in international rugby because you’re in the spotlight, but the flip side is that every game is like a cup final. In club rugby you have a bit more leeway. to try different combinations because you can lose a few games and still be in the top 4. You look at the pros and cons of both and hopefully see where you can make a difference.
And would he be interested in taking charge of the Lions for a fourth time? Both Calveley and former chairman Jason Leonard have indicated he will have their backing if he wishes to continue as head coach in Australia in 2025.
“I never planned ahead,” he added. “That decision probably won’t be made until the Six Nations after the World Cup and it depends on how it goes. I’m sure Andy Farrell would have a good chance. We would have liked to bring him last year. but the IRFU was against him going to South Africa, which was disappointing, and Gregor Townsend has experience with Scotland, there could be other people too.
“I am convinced that these opportunities arise for the right reasons, if you do a good job somewhere and you succeed. [The Lions] may think it’s time for a change and that’s perfectly understandable too.