Wales v New Zealand: What's at stake for departing coaches in bronze medal match

Steve Hansen and Warren Gatland chat following a Lions v New Zealand Test in 2017
Steve Hansen started his international coaching career in Wales where Warren Gatland has made his biggest impact
2019 Rugby World Cup bronze final
Venue: Tokyo Stadium, Tokyo Date: Friday, 1 November Time: 09:00 GMT
Coverage: Full commentary on BBC Radio Wales, Radio Cymru, BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, plus live text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app

It is the game no one wants to play in, the battle for the prize nobody really wants... bronze medal in the Rugby World Cup.

But Friday's meeting of beaten semi-finalists New Zealand and Wales is a landmark game as two of the sport's great coaches take charge of their sides for the last time.

Steve Hansen for the All Blacks and Warren Gatland for Wales.

Hansen who started his international career with Wales before steering the All Blacks to the 2015 World Cup and Gatland, whose great achievement - alongside three Six Nations Grand Slams - has been making Wales a force to be reckoned with in the world game.

If neither man's legacy can be ruined by the result of one match, what's at stake in Tokyo?

Well, quite a lot according to ex-All Blacks scrum-half Justin Marshall, who played in bronze medal matches at the 1999 and 2003 World Cups.

Historic pressure on Hansen

The All Blacks have not lost to Wales since December 1953 - a run of 30 consecutive wins - and Hansen will not want to be responsible for that run coming to an end.

"Let's think about the obvious here - we've not lost to Wales in 66 years, he would not want to be that guy," Marshall told BBC Scrum V.

Hansen was assistant to Graham Henry when New Zealand won the 2011 World Cup on home soil before taking on the main role.

After guiding the All Blacks to World Cup success in 2015 in England, Hansen has already seen his dreams of retaining the title vanish with semi-final defeat by England.

Marshall believes his fellow New Zealander will not want to want to end his eight-year reign with a loss against Wales.

Wales v New Zealand: Difficult but relevant game, says Justin Marshall

"He will be really determined and motivated during the week and he'll be making sure that he keeps our history in a good place," said Marshall.

"It's already been damaged under his regime before - we'd never lost to Ireland until he was the coach... he won't want it to happen again.

"It will be emotional but Hansen won't be like that.

"He won't make it about himself and he never has. He's achieved many milestones in his coaching career and he feels - and this is the mantra of the man - it's not about him.

"It's about what he sees the All Black jersey as being which is continuing to increase and enhance our history."

It remains unclear who will come in for Hansen after the World Cup but Gatland will be replaced by another New Zealander, Wayne Pivac, when he goes back home to coach Chiefs in Super Rugby.

New Zealand are the only side Gatland has not beaten as Wales coach during his 12 years in charge.

He did lead the British and Irish Lions to a 1-1 drawn series against the All Blacks in 2017 when he locked horns with Hansen in a compelling coaching contest.

Gatland will aim to put the New Zealand record right in Tokyo on Friday as two of world rugby's heavyweight coaches battle it out for the last time on the international stage in their current roles.

Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones gives a pep talk to his players after their semi-final defeat by South Africa
Alun Wyn Jones (centre) has captained Wales and the British and Irish Lions under Gatland

Building on Gatland's legacy

Marshall says a coach who has won three Grand Slams, reached two World Cup semi-finals and taken Wales briefly to number one in the world courtesy of a 14-match winning run, will not be defined by what happens in his final game.

"I don't think anything that happens on Friday has any effect on what he's done for Welsh rugby," said Marshall.

"He'll leave a legacy and the challenge for Wales is to try to make it better and that's what the All Blacks always try to do."

Gatland's assistant with Wales Robin McBryde believes the evidence of Gatland's reign can be seen on the playing field.

"There's no better legacy than the players that are here now, the players that will be here in eight years at other World Cups," he said.

"Those players and the experience that they've had, rubbing shoulders with some of these other players, that's the legacy.

"These players know how to win. It's testament to Warren, the other coaches he brought with him, the environment, the backroom staff.

"These players have been given the best opportunity possible. There is a no excuse sort of environment. There's no way out.

"That expectancy, that pressure, is always there to win.

"Warren's mentality has fed down to everybody. Regardless of who we're playing, we expect to go out there and win."

Watch more: BBC Scrum V, 21:30 GMT, BBC 1 Wales, Friday, 1 November

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