Gatland and Borthwick enter the fray – new coaches ready for Six Nations

Warren Gatland and Steve Borthwick Warren Gatland and Steve Borthwick will want to hit the ground running in their new roles (PA)

This season’s Six Nations Championship will see a familiar face and an exciting international newcomer in the coaches’ corner.

Warren Gatland has returned for a second stint with Wales, replacing Wayne Pivac, while Steve Borthwick takes the England reins after Eddie Jones was sacked two weeks ago.

Here, we look at the four men at the helm for the four home countries heading into the Six Nations and next year’s World Cup in France.

Steve Borthwick (England)

Former England forwards coach and captain Borthwick arrives at Twickenham as Jones’ England successor with an impressive CV.

He played in 57 Tests and clocked up close to 400 appearances for Bath and Saracens as an outstanding second-row forward.

He joined Leicester as head coach in 2020, and his second season at the helm saw Tigers crowned Gallagher Premiership champions.

Borthwick’s England stint starts against Scotland at February 4, with defending Six Nations champions France and current world number one team Ireland lining up as their final two opponents before World Cup warm-up games in August and a September 9 tournament opener against Argentina.

He will need to hit the ground running.

Warren Gatland (Wales)

The odds just a couple of months ago would have been distant on New Zealander Gatland being back in charge of Wales.

During a 12-year reign from 2007 to 2019, Wales won four Six Nations titles, three Grand Slams, reached two World Cup semi-finals and were briefly the world’s number one team.

The stars aligned for the Welsh Rugby Union, though, with a miserable 2022 that included home defeats against Italy and Georgia spelling the end for Pivac.

Gatland has returned initially for the Six Nations and World Cup, and while Wales currently look some way short of challenging France and Ireland, do not bet against the 59-year-old making an immediate impact.

Gregor Townsend (Scotland)

Townsend took over as Scotland head coach in 2017 and some impressive wins included a first victory over England at Twickenham for 38 years, while the likes of France and Australia have also been toppled, but the Scots continue to search for consistency.

They should have beaten New Zealand during this season’s Autumn Nations Series, but lost after leading 23-14 in the second half.

Scotland finished fourth in the last Six Nations, and a Twickenham opener this time against England represents a tough assignment, while their World Cup pool is ferociously difficult as it also includes South Africa and Ireland, with only two teams qualifying for the last eight.

Scotland have progressed under Townsend, but they now need to find another gear.

Andy Farrell (Ireland)

Former rugby league star Farrell has made a huge impression with Ireland since succeeding Joe Schmidt after the 2019 World Cup.

Following a steady rather than spectacular beginning, Farrell’s team have attained heights that Irish rugby could only previously have dreamt about.

In 2022, they won a Six Nations Triple Crown, claimed a Test series triumph against the All Blacks in New Zealand and rose to become the number one team in the world.

They will be among the Six Nations title favourites, but it is at the World Cup where they will be judged, with tournament history showing that Ireland have never progressed beyond the quarter-final stage.

It is a record Farrell will be desperate to change.

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