Wales coach Warren Gatland. Pic: Getty Images.

Warren Gatland Opens Debate Over His Future After World Cup Defeat

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By Paul Jones

Warren Gatland has opened the debate over his future as Wales coach by claiming: “If the union want to get rid of me, then they’re completely entitled to do that. That’s up to them.”

Gatland is raking over the ashes of Wales’ 29-17 defeat to Argentina in their Marseille World Cup quarter-final.

His deal with the Welsh Rugby Union contains a break clause to allow for a review after this tournament, but if he is given the green light to continue his contract would run on until the next tournament in 2027.

If he makes it that would be Gatland’s sixth World Cup finals, one in charge of Ireland and five more with Wales.

Since returning to the job in succession to Wayne Pivac before last season season’s Six Nations, Gatland has won six and lost seven of his 13 matches in charge.

It’s an identical record to Pivac’s first 13 games.

Asked if he wanted to stay on and about the review clause, the 60-year-old Kiwi added: “This is like an Eddie Jones question, is it?

“I’m not actually too sure what’s in my contract. I think there’s a break-clause from the union but I’m not sure what the actual wording is. I haven’t actually read it.

“This group of players have worked incredibly hard to get what they’ve achieved. I said to the players in the changing room, they’re pretty down and disappointed, but they should hold their heads up. They should be pretty proud of what they’ve done.

“We’ve got to make sure we continue to grow as a team. There are some exciting players coming through, some players who aren’t here.

“Hopefully they will be inspired by this group and want to make sure they work hard as well to be involved going forward.”

Gatland felt the change in referee knocked Wales off their stride as they crashed out of the World Cup.

South African official Jaco Peyper hobbled off with a calf injury after Wales had scored their first try in the 15th minute, taking a 7-0 lead in a match they had dominated.

But with Karl Dickson replacing Peyper their ascendency slipped away and Argentina came on strong in the second half with tries from Joel Sclavi and Nicolas Sanchez sweeping them into the last four.

“It probably didn’t help with the referee getting injured. That was a little bit disruptive in terms of the game,” said Gatland.

“We were 10-0 up and were thinking that if we take a few of the opportunities that were presented to us. Unfortunately we gave away a couple of soft penalties.

“It does throw you off. We were comfortable with Jaco Peyper and the relationship we have with him in terms of his control of the game.

“It’s nothing against Karl but you do a lot of analysis through what referees tend to be tough on and what they are looking for.

“We hadn’t prepared for the change. Sometimes that happens in a game and you just have to deal with it. That is the way Test match rugby goes sometimes.”

A controversial refereeing decision saw Guido Petti hit Nick Tompkins in the head with his shoulder in the third quarter but Dickson and TMO Marius Jonker ruled there was no foul play.

It was explained that because the tackle had been called, Tompkins was falling and Petti entered legally while bent at the waist, there was no offence. Argentina went over from the same period of play to stretch their lead.

“It would be interesting to see what happens in terms of the feedback from the panel,” Gatland said.

“He (Dickson) felt that Nick has dropped his height and he said it wasn’t foul play. I would need to go back and look at it, but it was probably at least a penalty situation.

“Sometimes those things happen in a game in big moments and can swing things. That is just the way it is.”

Dan Biggar’s final match for Wales ended in disappointment with the fly-half eventually departing in the second half having taken a bang to the chest early on, possibly exacerbating a pectoral muscle injury he had been carrying.

“Dan has been a great servant for Welsh rugby. He has been through some incredible highs and some lows as well. To see him come into the side and mature and develop as a player, that has been pretty special,” Gatland said.

Argentina were transformed from the team routed 27-10 by 14-man England in their group opener and head coach Michael Cheika insisted the lessons of that defeat had been learned.

“We knew that first game would be rough for us and we learned a lot from it because we had a lot of World Cup first timers,” Cheika said.

“There hasn’t been a radical turnaround, we’ve just built from what we’ve learned. The progress hasn’t been lineal, but all that work we put in as a foundation has paid off.

“We’re starting to get a bit of flow and one thing this team has always had is lots of flow. We just didn’t handle the occasion against England well.”

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