Rugby-Wales coach Gatland reiterates off-field improvement needed for clubs


Feb 29 (Reuters) - Wales will continue to fall behind top nations if their clubs do not get the right coaching structures and facilities in place, coach Warren Gatland reiterated on Thursday after previous similar comments drew criticism from within the local game.

Gatland suggested Welsh rugby was "plugging holes in a sinking ship" in the wake of the 31-7 Six Nations loss to Ireland in Dublin on Saturday, having been asked about the differences in the domestic game in the respective countries.

He said the four regional clubs needed to improve facilities and support staff before looking at player recruitment, comments Ospreys coach Toby Booth called "inflammatory" and "clumsy".

"I was asked the question about where Irish rugby was at, and where we were at, the structure and systems," Gatland told reporters on Thursday. "You can take anything out of a few quotes to put in a story.

"What I was highlighting was the importance of us, for the next 10 years, if we want success and sustainability, having the best facilities and the best support staff, whether that’s coaches, medical staff, strength and conditioning, before we start thinking about anything else.

"Probably the difference between us and Ireland at the moment is they have got their systems and structures in place and we’ve got a little bit of a way to go. It wasn’t a criticism of coaches."

But Gatland also stressed that the clubs needed to improve matters off the pitch before paying for expensive talent on it.

"Probably all of the regions, if they look at their structure and their support staff, they’ve got a couple of holes and things that they’re working to hopefully put right for the future," he said.

"I keep saying the right people and the right facilities will have so much more of an impact for us long-term than one or two players will do in a squad. We’ve just got to make sure we keep focusing on that.

"The pleasing thing for me is that it’s raised discussion. At least people are talking about it.

"My concern was if we don’t talk about it and focus on these areas, we’ll carry on doing what we’ve been doing for years and having the same results."

(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Ken Ferris)


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


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