Warren Gatland watches his team warm up ahead of a Six Nations clash. Photo: REUTERS/Rebecca Naden

LONDON - Wales head coach Warren Gatland has expressed concern that rugby clubs could be heading down a similar path to their soccer counterparts, who hire and fire managers at a rapid rate in an effort to get instant results.

Gatland, who has coached Wales since 2007, took charge of his 100th game in the team’s 37-27 defeat by Ireland in the Six Nations Championships last week and plans to leave the side after the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

The New Zealander’s long reign comes in stark contrast to the English Premier League, where eight of the division’s 20 teams have changed managers this season with Crystal Palace sacking Frank de Boer after just four games in charge.

“The thing with rugby at the moment is that there is definitely an element of football coming into it,” Gatland says. “It’s nowhere near as bad compared to the amount of changes you see in football.

“... The longevity of a coach there is pretty limited. It’s 12 months if you’re lucky, maybe longer. Rugby is going down the same road now.”

Jim Mallinder, Steve Tandy and Les Kiss have departed Premiership side Northampton Saints and Pro14 teams Ospreys and Ulster respectively this campaign, while South Africa sacked Allister Coetzee and France fired Guy Noves.

“There are a lot of teams at the moment looking for coaches for next year,” Gatland added. “There are seven or eight club sides or international teams looking right now.

“I’ve got no doubt, maybe it won’t be to the same extent, but that there could potentially be a merry-go-round of coaches in rugby as there is in football.”

Gatland, who also coached the British and Irish Lions in 2013 and 2017, credited his longevity to continuous changes in rugby over the years compared to soccer, where he believes changes are not as drastic.

“It’s not boring because it’s changing all the time. Maybe that’s the difference between rugby and football in that there are a lot of things in football which people say are quite similar to what’s always been done,” Gatland added. 

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