Warren Gatland 'done' with British & Irish Lions and will not lead South Africa tour

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Lions 2017: Warren Gatland clown nose response to cartoon

Warren Gatland says he "won't subject himself" to taking charge of the British and Irish Lions in 2021.

The Wales coach led the Lions to victory in Australia in 2013, and to a draw in New Zealand this summer.

But the 54-year-old says he will not take charge for the next tour to South Africa, citing the abuse he suffered and the difficulty of putting a winning team together in such a short time.

The New Zealander said: "I'm done. Let someone else reinvent the wheel."

Gatland revealed he had been "hurt" by criticism from within the camp, notably from Ireland flanker Sean O'Brien.

While the Lions' six-week, 10-match tour of New Zealand ended with a creditable drawn series - the Lions have only won once there in 100 years - a feature of the series was the level of abuse directed towards Gatland.

That included the New Zealand Herald newspaper featuring a cartoon of him as a red-nosed clown.

Speaking on Monday, Gatland said: "I hated the tour. I did. I just hated the press and the negativity in New Zealand.

"When I look back on it now, there were a lot of things that were satisfying and what an achievement it was, but it was tough work. It was hard."

Gatland had suggested he would be prepared to take charge for a third time in 2021, but when asked on Monday, he said: "I wouldn't subject myself to that.

"What I've learned from my Lions experiences is how difficult it is to put some continuity together in terms of people and staff, and the lack of preparation time. Let someone else do it."

However, Gatland said there was "something magical about the Lions" and hopes the game's senior figures will help to preserve that magic - primarily by giving coaches more time to prepare a squad.

"A minimum is having a week in the UK before you go, and then trying to arrive there a minimum of five days before the first game," he said. "That wouldn't be ideal, but it would be adequate.

"That is all we are asking for - adequate preparation - to give yourself the best chance of doing well."

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Gatland's first coaching roles

Gatland also spoke of his disappointment after hearing O'Brien say the team could have won the series 3-0 with better coaching.

"It took a bit of the gloss off the tour," Gatland said. "It really, really did hurt."

Gatland said he subsequently rang O'Brien and they had exchanged texts but added: "I've not heard back from him.

"You take 41 players on tour and you are not going to keep everyone happy. There are going to be players disappointed, feeling they haven't had a chance or an opportunity. I understand that. That's the nature of professional sport.

"There is no doubt Sean O'Brien had a fantastic tour. He played exceptionally well. There is no doubt about his contribution on the playing field. He was excellent.

"In the changing room, as a voice, from a leadership point of view, he contributed extremely well. It's only fair to acknowledge that."


BBC Radio 5 live rugby union reporter Chris Jones

As he freely admits, Gatland cut an often glum figure on the tour of New Zealand, and with his reputation very much intact after two unbeaten tours, it's perhaps inevitable he has ruled himself out of coaching the Lions again in 2021 - especially following Sean O'Brien's "hurtful" criticism.

Further to this, Gatland will be leaving Wales - and almost certainly northern hemisphere rugby - after the 2019 World Cup, and while he wants to take some time off to consider his options, at the age of 56 he should still have plenty left in the coaching tank.

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