Warren Gatland's return: What were his key moments as Wales' head coach?

The WRU say they are "delighted" that Gatland has agreed to return. Credit: PA

Warren Gatland returns to his old job as he is officially announced as the new head coach of Welsh rugby.

He replaces Wayne Pivac, who had a disappointing run of just three wins in 12 games this year.

Gatland's legacy as Wales' head coach is a towering one. During his reign, Wales won four Six Nations titles, including three Grand Slams, reached the semi-finals in two Rugby World Cups, and topped the World Rugby rankings for a period.

With 12 years at the helm from 2007 to 2019, Gatland was Wales’ longest serving head coach, having held the post for twice as long as his nearest rival Clive Rowlands.

Wayne Pivac’s departure comes after a disappointing Autumn Nations Series campaign for Wales, which included a home defeat against Georgia and blowing a 34-13 lead against the Wallabies.

The WRU said: “He will undoubtedly be able to make an immediate impact, just as he did when he joined us for the first time in 2008." Credit: PA

In an extraordinary comeback, fans will be hoping Gatland can represent a return to Wales getting results, particularly with next year's Rugby World Cup in France fast approaching.

We look back at some of Gatland's key moments and greatest triumphs during his time with Wales.

  • 2008: Grand Slam

It was a very successful start to Gatland's career at Wales.

In his debut season, he completed his first Six Nations clean sweep. In a 29-12 win over France, he led Wales to securing the Grand Slam, something he would go on to repeat twice during his tenure.

2008's Six Nations saw Wales taste glory yet again by defeating France in the then-Millennium Stadium. Credit: PA
  • 2011: Rugby World Cup

Wales' flourishing start to the 2011 Rugby World Cup meant that fans' dreams of victory seemed within reach.

A semi-final clash with France was all that stood between Wales and the Final.

But, despite Wales' dominant show, the game ended in an agonising 9-8 win for Les Bleus.

  • 2012: Grand Slam

The following year, another Wales encounter with France in a major tournament was more successful.

Wales took a 16-9 victory over France in the 2012 Six Nations, with Gatland leading the team to a Grand Slam once again.

Wales secure their third Grand Slam in eight years – and second under Gatland. Credit: PA
  • 2013

Gatland was on a sabbatical with the Lions when the Six Nations rolled around this year but, watching from afar, he saw his side win the Six Nations in dramatic fashion.

With Rob Howley temporarily at the wheel, Wales thrashed England 30-3 in the final game of the Championship, denying the old enemy a Grand Slam and snatching the Six Nations title from under their noses.

Warren Gatland led the Lions to a 2-1 series win in Australia Credit: PA
  • 2015

Wales' World Cup campaign this year really took off when they once again beat England in dramatic fashion.

Dealing with a debilitating injury list, Gareth Davies' try and a late Dan Biggar penalty saw Gatland's side come out on top in the group match at Twickenham, all but knocking England out of their home tournament.

Wales exited the World Cup shorlty after, losing a quarter-final to South Africa in the final minutes.

  • 2019: Grand Slam

In Wales' 25-7 win against Ireland in the 2019 Six Nations, the team stretched their consecutive wins to a record 14 games.

It marked their fourth Grand Slam title in 14 years and the third under soon-to-be-departed coach Gatland.

In 2019, Wales won the Six Nations and Triple Crown trophy after defeating Ireland at the Principality Stadium. Credit: PA

Fans gathered in Cardiff to celebrate Wales' triumph with a special homecoming celebration.

  • 2019: Rugby World Cup semi-final

There were high hopes for Wales entering the 2019 Rugby World World Cup.

In the summer of 2019, just a month before heading to Japan for the tournament, Wales was briefly ranked top of the World Rugby rankings.

But, it wasn't to be as Wales came fourth after losing to New Zealand in the Bronze final.

Before the 2019 Rugby World Cup campaign in Tokyo, Gatland announced he was to leave his role as Wales' Head Coach after the tournament. Credit: PA

Despite this, Gatland’s record during his 12 years in charge had made him one of Wales' most successful head coaches ever.

Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) CEO Steve Phillips said:

“In Warren we are bringing in one of the very best coaches in the international game.

“We were sorry to see him go when he left and we are delighted that he has agreed to return.

“We know him well and, most importantly, he knows us well too. We are extremely excited about this latest chapter for Wales and Warren Gatland and I know the feeling is mutual."