Pivac replacing Gatland as Wales rugby coach after World Cup

July 9, 2018
FILE - In this Saturday, July 8, 2017 file photo, British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland walks on the field in Auckland, New Zealand. The Welsh Rugby Union says on Monday, July 9, 2018 former New Zealand police constable Wayne Pivac will take over from Warren Gatland as coach of the national team after next year's World Cup. Pivac has performed the same role at the Scarlets since 2014. (AP Photo/Mark Baker, file)

CARDIFF, Wales (AP) — Wales coach Warren Gatland will be replaced by fellow New Zealander Wayne Pivac after next year’s Rugby World Cup.

The Welsh Rugby Union made the announcement on Monday, saying the decision to hire the 55-year-old Pivac — coach of Welsh province Scarlets — was taken after a two-year consultation process.

Gatland will have been in charge for 12 years when he steps down in December 2019, making him the longest-serving Wales coach ever.

“We have avoided the feeding frenzy that can come at the end of a RWC year and we have been meticulous in ensuring we have someone of the talent, experience, charisma and rugby acumen to do the very best possible job for Welsh rugby,” WRU chief executive Martyn Phillips said.

“The handover process is something we will plan carefully and commence in detail next summer.”

Pivac, a former New Zealand police constable, led Auckland to a hat trick of domestic titles, before being voted his country’s coach of the year in 2003. He coached Fiji and also won the domestic Pro12 trophy with the Scarlets in 2017 while guiding the team into the semifinals of the European Champions Cup in the same season.

He officially comes under WRU employment in July 2019.

“I know I’m following in the footsteps of someone who is held in extremely high regard, not only by the Welsh public, but also by the players who have played under him,” Pivac said, “and I will be doing my best to protect the legacy which Warren Gatland, with the help of those players, will inevitably leave behind.”

Gatland said the early announcement will remove one distraction heading into the World Cup.

“The World Cup is a key focus and Wayne’s early appointment will help us keep that focus,” Gatland said. “Additionally I’m determined to ensure that Wayne is given the best possible opportunity to succeed in this job when he starts after the World Cup and I will do everything I can to help him.”