Following Warren Gatland‘s last outing at the Principality Stadium as head coach of the Barbarians he spoke of how grateful he was of the opportunity to come back and say thank you to Wales one last time.
Gatland was joined by fellow outgoing coach Robin McBryde as they spoke to the media following Saturday’s historic double header.
Gatland’s final farewell
Warren Gatland (WG): “It was a great opportunity for me and Robin [McBryde] to say thanks very much. I’ve loved this week and my time here in Wales has been fantastic. The new regime coming in, I want to wish them all the best and hopefully it was brilliant for them to have that week together ahead of the Six Nations. I thought they played well today.
“They’d have learnt a lot today, about being positive in the way they play and they’ll take things out of that and having the balance right between playing and overplaying. They went into today with the right intent.
“I enjoyed the last 15-20 minutes, not being under pressure and knowing in the other box it’s squeaky bum time. That’s international rugby and welcome to that, and I’m delighted for the players.”
WG: “No not really, it was special but not emotional,” he said.
“I’ve had that already in terms of knowing there was a finishing point and looking forward to the next challenge. It was a day I wanted to enjoy.
“I wanted an opportunity to say thank you to the fans and the Welsh public and to express my gratitude on how much I’ve enjoyed the past 12 years. This ground has been such a focal point in that, the games we’ve won here and the crowd bringing us home.
“It was great for Wales, but the competitive edge in me and Robin wanted to go out there and win. That’s what sport’s all about, competition and winning. We weren’t able to do that but it was a great game of rugby and a good crowd too.”
Half back pairing stand out
WG: “I thought Tomos Williams was great in that first half. I was pleased for Jarrod Evans, he played that game in the World Cup warm up that wasn’t the greatest game for him, he knows that and he’s gone away and worked on aspects of his game. So, it was great to see him learn from that experience and that’s what international rugby is all about.
“There was an opportunity for Aaron Wainwright at eight and he showed what a quality player he’s going to be in the future, whether that be at six, seven or eight.”
Just a brief game analysis
Despite a joking comment about his thoughts on a poor refereeing display from Nigel Owens Gatland spoke just briefly on the game.
WG: “We caused a lot of our own problems, when you get a 15-8 penalty count against you it’ll be a tough day at the office.”
Straight back to New Zealand
WG: “I leave tomorrow and get back in Auckland on Tuesday morning. I start officially later, but my WRU contract doesn’t end until the middle of December so I’m not too sure what’s going to happen. I’m gone but I’ll be available on the phone.
“I’ll get picked up by a friend, go and get my car and go home before training. I’ll have to look after myself tonight.”
Exciting Super Rugby challenge ahead
WG: “I’m really excited about Super Rugby and the challenges it poses and what I’ve learned from my time up here and my experiences and what I can transfer in my knowledge back in New Zealand to a young group of players.”
Leaving Wales in good shape
Robin McBryde (RM): “It was a special occasion and I’m grateful for Leinster for releasing me this week. 12 years with the support staff, they all came out to Ireland for a few days, that was good.
“It’s being part of a special group of people at the top of their game, and I’ve been fortunate to be part of that for the past 12 years. I’ve had my time, but I’m jealous of any coach who can come in and work with that group of players.
“The potential they have is fantastic and you need good players to make you a good coach. It’s good to see lads like Ollie Griffiths getting back out there, Seb Davies, Leon Brown. They’ve got such a bright future ahead of them.
“We’ve seen Alun Wyn Jones for instance, he’s been there from the beginning and the way he’s matured. The staff are a major part of it to create that environment.
“It was a good way to sign off, if the game hadn’t been there it would have been open ended, Warren wouldn’t have been able to come back to Cardiff. There are some great memories here in Cardiff.”
Where do the Barbarians lie in a congested rugby calendar?
WG: “It’s unique and something special and it takes you back to the ethos of what rugby is all about – bringing people together and for the Barbarians, bringing people from different nations.
“We should embrace that and make sure it’s encouraged for the opportunity for players and coaches. Players have interacted with teammates from other countries and it’s the same for us coaches.
“If you look back at the history of the Barbarians and the role it’s played in rugby then it’s something we should definitely continue in the future.”
Roof decision should be up to the WRU states Gatland
WG: “This is the WRU’s stadium and they should decide whether it’s shut or open, not anybody else. I’ve been hammering that home for years and every year I say to the board, go to the Six Nations and tell them this is our stadium and we’ll decide what happens to the roof, not being dictated by anybody else.
Family celebration for the Gatland’s
Gatland celebrated one of his final nights in Wales with family.
WG: “I’m not really sure, but I think about 20 family came over and a few friends from London from my time with Wasps and some friends from Ireland too. There were 38 or 39 at dinner last night and in fairness to the WRU they’ve been absolutely fantastic in supporting us.
“They gave us a box on halfway and put that on and for a lot of my family it was the first time they’d been over to Wales. I had my mother over and a few sisters. It was great for them to experience what is to me the greatest rugby stadium in the world.”
“Main photo credit”