Warren Gatland becomes leading candidate to replace Eddie Jones

RUGBYU-WAL-TGA

Warren Gatland may be a man in demand, but the Rugby Football Union are adamant that they have not made an approach to the Wales coach to take over from Eddie Jones in the role.

Jones is contracted to the end of 2021, but there is a clause which allows the RFU to end his tenure if they underperform in the World Cup in Japan later this year.

The people in charge of the game have signalled that they would like a smooth transition of the coaching role, with the new man to work alongside the Australian by 2020 with the view of taking over the role the following year.

This would be a stark change to the complete mess which followed the World Cups in 2007, 2011, and 2015.

While RFU interim chief executive Nigel Melville said at the end of 2018 that he planned to speak to Gatland, the Telegraph reports that although he is considered the front runner for the role, a spokesman claimed 'no conversations have been had with any possible succession candidates.'

Gatland is poised to leave Wales at the end of the centrepiece occasion of the sport, but is doing it purely on his terms having been in charge for eleven years.

In that time he has won two Six Nations titles in 2008 and 2012 and in those years they doubled up and claimed the Grand Slam.

Wales also won the Six Nations in 2013, but Gatland was not in charge of the team, as he was focused on British Lions duty and his deputy Rob Howley took over the reigns.

Wales Media Access

Despite being a New Zealander by berth, Gatland has spent the best part of 25 years coaching in the northern hemisphere.

Along with his long tenure with Wales, Gatland has also coached Ireland (1998-2001) along with a very successful stint in charge of Wasps (2002-2005).

In that time they won the Premiership on three occasions along with the Heineken and European Challenge Cup.

There is little doubt that any nation would love to acquire the services of the 55-year-old, and it is almost a case of him being able to pick his own destination with a number of plum roles likely to be available.

Ireland v Wales - NatWest Six Nations

All Blacks mentor Steve Hansen is certainly stepping down after the World Cup, while Michael Cheika is definitely on the hot seat for the underperforming Wallabies.

So with Gatland and Jones set to cross paths when Wales play England at the Millennium stadium on Saturday, you sense that the end result will have a bit more meaning than usual.

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