The FIVE leading contenders to coach the Lions in 2021 - Ruck

The FIVE leading contenders to coach the Lions in 2021

Warren Gatland ruled himself out of contention to coach the British and Irish Lions in 2021 yesterday, revealing that he ”hated the press and negativity” during this summer’s drawn series in New Zealand.

Here we run down the five favourites with Sky Bet to lead the tour to South Africa.

Dai Young – 8/1

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Wasps’ have had a tough start to the season amid a glut of injuries and he is a respected figure who is well placed to succeed Gatland when he steps down after the 2019 World Cup. From that position, the door could open to taking charge of a Lions tour.

Gregor Townsend – 7/1

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The least experienced candidate on this list, but a young coach full of fresh ideas with a strong Lions pedigree as a player, toppling the Springboks in 1997. Townsend did a really good job with Glasgow, leading them to their first Champions Cup quarter-final last season. His chances will really pivot on whether he is able to build upon the great work done by his predecessor Vern Cotter with the Scottish national team in the build-up to the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Mark McCall – 5/1

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The Ulsterman’s stock climbs higher every season, to the point that he is mooted in some quarters as Jones’ successor at Twickenham despite a lack of international experience. Undoubtedly the pick of coaches operating in the Aviva Premiership, so it’s no surprise that he is now the third favourite for the post.

Joe Schmidt – 5/2

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A highly-respected tactician of the game whose future is not mapped out beyond Japan 2019. Schmidt was in consideration for the All Blacks post until the stars aligned in Gatland’s favour. If he hasn’t returned to his native New Zealand and is available for the Lions he’d become a prime contender.

Eddie Jones – 8/11
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The Aussie has revealed a desire to lead the Lions in the future and by 2021 his insight into British and Irish rugby would be extensive — combine that with his coaching expertise and he becomes an excellent candidate. A worthy bookies favourite.