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Is Warren Gatland Simply a Lucky Coach?

Happyhooker2696

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I think it was Napoleon who, when asked what makes a great general, responded – “being lucky”!

Is Warren Gatland simply a lucky coach? Last weekend he got lucky big time. With little more than 25 minute gone Sonny Bill’s indiscretion gave him the lifeline he needed. The series needed the Lions win, rugby needed the Lions win, but most would accept that without Sonny Bills departure the result and series would have gone the way of the All Blacks.

Gatland and his team have selected an unchanged team based purely on that northern hemisphere failing – emotion, rather than hard facts. He’s rewarding the team for their performance, for the great job they did in showing fight and spirit to come back from 19 – 9 down to get the win. But was it such a great performance?

They were against 14 men for 55 minutes. The Lions pack barely held parity for most of that time against a seven man pack. The back row did well - but against a 2 man back row. Losing a world class 6 was a massive blow to the All Blacks. If Barrett had landed all his penalties the game would probably have been out of sight long before the Lions come back. If his grubber kick behind the Lions backline had gone straight instead of at an angle, Reid would have scored near the posts and even Barrett on the day would probably have got that kick – probably game over.

The hard facts show that the Lions scrum struggled in both tests – but no changes to the front row. Vunipola got it tight in the scrum and was reckless in both penalties. Probably lucky not to get a red card. But he’s still there. Jones was poor in the first test and far from outstanding in the second. He’s still there even though the stats show that, Henderson, Lawes and Kruiz have all out-performed him throughout the series. Gatland hung Henderson out to dry when he got the yellow card and it would seem this cost him a place in the match day 23. Was that just the excuse he needed to keep Jones in-situ? Hansen, to his credit, didn’t do the same to Sonny Bill. Kruiz and O’Mahony suffered similar fates after the first test despite outstanding series to date. The talented Lions backline couldn’t get going because they couldn’t get go forward ball for a large proportion of the game. The Lions pack couldn’t dominate, even against 7 men and a 2 man All Black back row.

If the Lions hadn’t got that fortunate penalty at the end and it had ended in a draw the team would have been slated for not being able to put away a 14 man All Blacks. If the hosts had taken their chances during their dominance, leading to ignominious defeat, the clamour for change would have been deafening. Same performance over 80 minutes, same personnel, a fortunate penalty. On such small margins people are either heroes or villains. Selection must be based on facts not emotion. You’ve got to think Hansen wouldn’t have selected an unchanged Lions team were he in charge.

Gatland has form in the luck department. Four years ago in Australia they won a test series against a less than vintage Wallabies team. The final test was finely balanced until Connor Murray came on for Mike Philips. A lot of people felt Murray should have started but Gatland went with Philips whose service was slow and ponderous. Murray swung the game and the rest is history. Some will argue it was great management by Gatland – perfect tactics. Or was it just luck and poor selection in the first place?

The All Blacks are ruthless in selection. No room for emotion or past reputation. And assuming they can maintain a full team we have to fear the Blacklash will come this weekend. I fear Gatland has missed a chance to make the necessary changes and the Lions will pay the consequences.
Will his luck finally run out?
 

Penne Rara

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You could say the same about everything. Success often comes with an incredible dose of luck.
But the luckiest performers are often the best prepared, and with that comes work rate. You aren't lucky if you aren't ready to take advantage of every opportunity. Had the Lions not taken advantage of last week's red card, they would have lost the test and Gatland would've been called useless.

Success is a subtle mixture between luck, natural skills (talent) and work. Someone who's lucky but lacks the ability to spot an opportunity and seize it, that is who's not talented or hasn't worked enough, won't always be successful. And you can't always be lucky either. But someone who puts in the hard yards will often be rewarded for it.

Beauden Barrett always seems to get the bounce of the ball right, his relatives often call him a tin-arse for being so lucky, and he himself acknowledges that everything's nearly always going in the right direction for him. But that's because he trains so hard, he's doing these kicks and these passes in his sleep (well that doesn't apply for place-kicking obviously, he just doesn't have a nick for it). By practicing week in, week out, he somewhat controls the success rate he enjoys and minimizes the number of unlucky bounces. That's just an example, but it demonstrates that being lucky isn't always the most important thing. It's what you do of it that matters. And sometimes, lucky folks work hard but just don't show it.
 

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Hats off to Gats, he hung in there and his hard working and talented squad made the last 10 minutes count against a team that had oo much to do for too long.
I was particularly happy with Gats win against the NZ Herald who behaved very poorly in ridiculing him with that clown caricature.
I'm still not happy about that nonsense.
NZ should never be stooping to that rubbish behaviour and when I get back there for xmas I'll have plenty to say about it.
Sonny Bill crapped on his own team with that moment of hair brained idiocy.
Nearly an hour the AB's had to battle along a forward down, it was heroic but a massive ask.
They could have nicked it but the Lions came through and the series is alive and anything can happen in rugby.
Thats part of what makes it cool and makes the AB's winning ratio so mystifying.
 

scotty507

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What would have been different this tour if eddie jones was coach instead of gatland and onv replaced howley?

Part from launchbury getting a call up not the random welshmen

What do people think? Meaning difference in decision making, selection, dealing with media and in game man management? I think gatland failed on most of these points.

EJ for england takes the flak from media. Takes players off at 20 min if thwy playing bad. And other things and howley is just terrible as an attack coach

What do people think?
 

The Jones Boy

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Schmidt or Jones might have fared better but who knows...
It's a tough place to tour.
 

MikeTheNative

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You don't get as much success as Gatland over the years simply by being lucky. Hoping he comes back to Wales for the AI's and gets them playing a bit better that Howley.
 

profitius

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He should play the lottery every week
What would have been different this tour if eddie jones was coach instead of gatland and onv replaced howley?

Part from launchbury getting a call up not the random welshmen

What do people think? Meaning difference in decision making, selection, dealing with media and in game man management? I think gatland failed on most of these points.

EJ for england takes the flak from media. Takes players off at 20 min if thwy playing bad. And other things and howley is just terrible as an attack coach

What do people think?
I think you're wrong about Howley. I thought the lions played some excellent rugby and were cutting open NZ at times. They just needed more time to gel as a team.


As for Gatland being lucky. You make your own luck.
 

ncurd

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I'd say he was a good coach not great. His record against the SH (Lions aside) is utterly rubbish even when Wales were winning Grand Slams (and IMO never looked good winning them they always looked beatable).

I think his teams are 'difficult to beat' rather than 'go in as favourites'. I've not feared Wales (despite losses) in his entire tenure I don't go in thinking we can lose and usually think England will win. Now that is national bias but I've don't think the same way about SA (except recently) or the ABs although I always fancy our chances.
With Wales because of their sh results they've always shown themselves to be beatable.

As to Lions he's come accross possibly two of the weakest sides Australia and NZ have produced in the pro era. Certainly compared to previous tours in the professional era 2001 tour of Australia was against current world champions and would final in 2003. 2005 tour was the dawn of a domimant ABs side for the next decade that would go on to win 2 world cups. The Aus side was in decline and hadn't been close to best in the world for some time, ABs better but they clearly in transistion after losing 400+ caps to retirement and just lost two of the greatest players of all time which were central to NZ success neither of their replacement are close to as good....yet.
He certainly has been fortunate in the opposition he got for the Lions.

Add into the fact I dislike the style of rugby Wales and Lions play under him and i don't think of it as strategy to win just not lose badly.
Plus the Lions were rubbish this tour and way too many questionable decision were made. The only person coaching who came out well I think was Farrell and I;m extremely reluctant to praise him due to his apparent power during Lancaster era England and 2015 RWC debarcle.
 

The Alpha Bro

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I'd say he was a good coach not great. His record against the SH (Lions aside) is utterly rubbish even when Wales were winning Grand Slams (and IMO never looked good winning them they always looked beatable).

I think his teams are 'difficult to beat' rather than 'go in as favourites'. I've not feared Wales (despite losses) in his entire tenure I don't go in thinking we can lose and usually think England will win. Now that is national bias but I've don't think the same way about SA (except recently) or the ABs although I always fancy our chances.
With Wales because of their sh results they've always shown themselves to be beatable.

As to Lions he's come accross possibly two of the weakest sides Australia and NZ have produced in the pro era. Certainly compared to previous tours in the professional era 2001 tour of Australia was against current world champions and would final in 2003. 2005 tour was the dawn of a domimant ABs side for the next decade that would go on to win 2 world cups. The Aus side was in decline and hadn't been close to best in the world for some time, ABs better but they clearly in transistion after losing 400+ caps to retirement and just lost two of the greatest players of all time which were central to NZ success neither of their replacement are close to as good....yet.
He certainly has been fortunate in the opposition he got for the Lions.

Add into the fact I dislike the style of rugby Wales and Lions play under him and i don't think of it as strategy to win just not lose badly.
Plus the Lions were rubbish this tour and way too many questionable decision were made. The only person coaching who came out well I think was Farrell and I;m extremely reluctant to praise him due to his apparent power during Lancaster era England and 2015 RWC debarcle.
This and I think it's no coincidence his success in Europe dried up with the arrival of Schmidt and then Jones. Wales in Cardiff is a really tough challenge and they are difficult to beat but things would have to go badly wrong to lose to them at home.
 

munstermuffin

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This and I think it's no coincidence his success in Europe dried up with the arrival of Schmidt and then Jones. Wales in Cardiff is a really tough challenge and they are difficult to beat but things would have to go badly wrong to lose to them at home.
Be careful now or Valley Commando will troll you with a dislike :D

But the point is exact. Having studied a bit I think Gatland got left behind when guys like Schmidt and Jones arrived. Even with Rassie in Munster I see it. but these guys are complete fanatics on finer details that I don't think Gatland possesses and this is where you get that extra 10-15%.

I've heard stories on Schmidt getting cranky on how precise lads place finger tips on passes and where there head is exactly facing 2 phases before they are due to get the ball. And Jones is similar and it's no coincidence they do win those small battles. Both have surrounded themselves with comfort blankets. Jones got Gustard and Borthwick. Schmidt had smarts to have Gibbes, Plumtree, Farrell and even Richie Murphy.
 

munstermuffin

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It was on Off The Ball (an Irish radio debate) about Gatland tonight. It was almost like Alpha gave them the topic but here is the jist and will put it out there.
Does the fact people are trying so hard to justify Gatland show that he isn't as good or is so many wrong and he isn't judged fairly?
A poll in UK on some site asked how they rated Gatland on this tour and majority ranked poorly.

It was noted he has arguably came back from New Zealand with his reputation worst than when he arrived there despite the series results.
It was said the New Zealand public look on him worst than before tour, it was stated he hasn't actually beaten a coach with "smarts" and achieved. And is very rigid in his Welsh regime and doesn't really allow for growth.
There was a few other interesting comments and very good view on it
 

snoopy snoopy dog dog

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He took Ireland out of the rut they were in for all of the 1990s. Grand Slams with Wales in 2008 and 2012. Coaches the Lions to their first series win in 16 years and backs it up with a tied series against unquestionably the best team in the World. Air NZ Cup winner. Three time Premiership winner. European Cup winner. That's the record of an outstanding coach, not a lucky one.
 

munstermuffin

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He took Ireland out of the rut they were in for all of the 1990s. Grand Slams with Wales in 2008 and 2012. Coaches the Lions to their first series win in 16 years and backs it up with a tied series against unquestionably the best team in the World. Air NZ Cup winner. Three time Premiership winner. European Cup winner. That's the record of an outstanding coach, not a lucky one.
I do agree he has a record. Wasps for me was his greatest project bit but it is a good subject to debate with no real unanimous answer. For me I persinally think he got results but I didn't like how he conducted business. Others will disagree and have just as strong arguments.
 

ragerancher

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I think he is a good honeymoon coach, he will come in and shake things up but isn't able to properly develop a progression to keep things going, he has gone stale as have Wales. I think he could go into coaching another team and get them performing better but that will drop off once he establishes his favourites.
 

munstermuffin

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I think he is a good honeymoon coach, he will come in and shake things up but isn't able to properly develop a progression to keep things going, he has gone stale as have Wales. I think he could go into coaching another team and get them performing better but that will drop off once he establishes his favourites.
I think that was the main argument of 1 of pundits. He's a coach with a shelf life in each job. He has 1 style and 1 manner and it works but only in a certain time frame
 

Old Hooker

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I think that was the main argument of 1 of pundits. He's a coach with a shelf life in each job. He has 1 style and 1 manner and it works but only in a certain time frame
You could say pretty much the same for any coach. To have survived 10 years in the goldfish bowl that is Welsh rugby plus two unbeaten Lions tours tells me the bloke's no mug.

Also need to bear in mind that in Wales he's working with a pretty small player pool at the top level. There just isn't the depth available to Hansen or Jones. In some respects that makes life easier, but you can't blame him for sticking with what / who he knows. As ever the question is who would have done better if dealt the same hand.

I don't think he's very top drawer, but I do think he deserves more credit than he sometimes gets.
 

munstermuffin

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You could say pretty much the same for any coach. To have survived 10 years in the goldfish bowl that is Welsh rugby plus two unbeaten Lions tours tells me the bloke's no mug.

Also need to bear in mind that in Wales he's working with a pretty small player pool at the top level. There just isn't the depth available to Hansen or Jones. In some respects that makes life easier, but you can't blame him for sticking with what / who he knows. As ever the question is who would have done better if dealt the same hand.

I don't think he's very top drawer, but I do think he deserves more credit than he sometimes gets.
Fair comment. I think Jones or Schmidt would've done a lot better. Also Townsend over Howley. And I think Gatlands last few years as Welsh boss and handling of some things has been poor. But as I said there'll never be a straight up opinion and I agree he does get credit for achievement just not a fan of his style
 

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As to Lions he's come accross possibly two of the weakest sides Australia and NZ have produced in the pro era. Certainly compared to previous tours in the professional era 2001 tour of Australia was against current world champions and would final in 2003. 2005 tour was the dawn of a domimant ABs side for the next decade that would go on to win 2 world cups. .
I've seen this posted previously about 2005 AB's being superior to 2017. I'm not sure this claim would stand up to analysis. Off top of my head 2017 would have superior locks, No.8, half back, First Five and Fullback (Ben Smith) and would be equal in a number of other positions.
I don't enjoy Gatland's tactics (Never have - right back to his coaching Waikato). I think despite what he states he's "defence obsessed" and don't feel he utilised flopping, fullback Williams and that speedy left winger enough. But I don't think "weak 2017 AB's" is a valid argument.
 

mania

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What would have been different this tour if eddie jones was coach.
i magine they wouldve lost. eddie hasnt coached a team like the lions so wouldve totally fcked it up. this also includes schmidt.
gatland made his mistakes in aus and didnt repeat those. he landed in Nz with the complete ownership of the changingRoom. i doubt eddie wouldve had the belief of the non england players.
gatland did an amazing job that no other current coach wouldve been able to do.
 
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