Edwards agony as Lions call up England coach Farrell for tour of Australia
22:30 GMT, 12 December 2012
Once Warren Gatland had confirmed his
Lions coaching line-up on Wednesday, he spoke of his ‘agonising’
decision which left long-term sidekick Shaun Edwards stunned and
Of all the
potential candidates, he had to choose between two close friends, two
men from the same town in northern England, two ex-rugby league players
who had competed side by side for club and country so many times.
It all came down to Andy Farrell
versus Shaun Edwards and Gatland chose Farrell over the man who helped
him guide Wasps and Wales to titles and glory.
Lionhearts: (From left to right) Andy Farrell, Warren Gatland, Andy Irvine, Rob Howley and Graham Rowntree
When the management team for the tour
of Australia was unveiled, there was no dissent about the re-appointment
of Graham Rowntree and Rob Howley. As the men in charge of the forwards
and the attacking game, they will pick up where they left off in South
Africa in 2009. The talk was all about Gatland’s deliberation between
the former Wigan stalwarts from the 13-man code.
was pretty agonising really,’ said Gatland. ‘There was a lot of
speculation — people talking about Shaun. For me, that was the most
difficult decision to have to make. He is a world-class coach who has
been very, very successful. But I felt that, from a selfish point of
view, I wanted someone fresh who I haven’t worked with, who would
Left out: Edwards (above) had been hoping to embark on another Lions tour with Gatland (below left)
‘I told Shaun a few days ago —that’s
when I spoke to him about my final decision. He appreciated the call but
at the same time he was very, very disappointed. It wasn’t the easiest
decision in the world to make. But I have to make those hard calls.’
Howley knows Edwards well through
their work together on behalf of Wales. When asked if the former Wasps
coach would be disappointed by this news, his reaction was revealing.
He thought long and hard, looked intently at the questioner and
replied: ‘Very.’ No more words were needed. The force of that one hung
in the air.
Farrell, 37, is an international
coaching novice with only nine England Tests under his belt, but Gatland
said: ‘Having spoken to coaches and players who’ve worked with Andy,
he comes highly recommended.’
Pointing the way: Gatland has opted to take Farrell to Australia with him
Click here for all the fixtures for the 2013 tour of Australia
The New Zealander did not reach a
final verdict until after the autumn Tests — which meant Farrell’s input
into England’s win over the All Blacks was a factor.
revealed: ‘I am excited by that. He brings something different in terms
of his background, as the youngest captain of Great Britain’s rugby
league team. People who have been involved with him talk about his
ability to motivate players and make them want to play for him.’
For Farrell, inclusion in the Lions
hierarchy maintains a year of scarcely credible personal advance. Back
in January he was busy learning his trade at Saracens, then Stuart
Lancaster asked if he could help out with England’s interim coaching
set-up. He did such a good job that the RFU pursued him and after a
brief hiatus, the union got their man.
Scrum's the word: Rowntree will be responsible for coaching the pack
Now he has been given the chance to take the ultimate step.
been a hell of a year, it’s been unbelievable,’ he said. ‘I feel very
fortunate to have an opportunity like this so early in my coaching
career. It’s something I’m very proud of.
class myself to be a similar type of character and competitor to Shaun
and we’ve both won things. We’re good friends and we’ll speak.’
The coaching team
Born: May 30, 1975 in Wigan, England.
Tests (as player): 8 (all in 2007).
Club(s): Saracens, Wigan RL.
Coaching career: Saracens (from 2009), England (2012-).
Lions background: none.
Other: Made Great Britain rugby league debut at age of 18 and was youngest-ever captain at age of 21. Won five championships and four Challenge Cups in successful Wigan side. Former world Player of the Year in league.
Crossed codes in 2005 but missed a whole season through injury. Part of England (union) squad which reached Rugby World Cup Final 2007.
Born: October 13, 1970 in Bridgend, Wales.
Tests (as player): 61 (from 1996-2002).
Position: Scrum half.
Club(s): Wasps, Cardiff, Bridgend.
Coaching career: Cardiff Blues, Wales (from 2008).
Lions background: Toured South Africa in 1997, but injury ended his tour early. Toured Australia in 2001, playing in two Tests. Served as attack coach under Sir Ian McGeechan in South Africa in 2009.
Other: Captained Wales 22 times in 1998 and 1999. Welsh Player of the Year in 1996 and 1997. Famously won 2004 Heineken Cup for Wasps with last-gasp try against Toulouse at Twickenham.
Born: April 18, 1971 in Stockton-on-Tees, England.
Tests (as player): 57 (from 1995-2006).
Coaching career: Leicester, RFU national academy, England (from 2008).
Lions background: Toured South Africa in 1997, but unable to break into Test squad. Toured New Zealand in 2005 and played in two Tests. Served as scrum coach under Sir Ian McGeechan in South Africa in 2009.
Other: Part of the 2003 Grand Slam-winning England squad but overlooked for World Cup. Played 398 matches for Leicester from 1990-2007, winning two Heineken Cups and four Premiership titles.