Chiefs Rugby Club have announced a new coaching structure which will see returning coach Warren Gatland appointed to the new position of director of rugby, and Clayton McMillan appointed as head coach for the 2022 season.
Gatland had previously taken a sabbatical from his role as Chiefs head coach in order to concentrate on his position with the British and Irish Lions’ recent tour of South Africa.
McMillan had stepped in as acting head coach for 2021 but is now taking the role over on a permanent basis.
Chiefs Rugby CEO Mike Collins says the club was delighted to retain Gatland and McMillan in a new structure which would allow the Chiefs high-performance environment to evolve, while retaining the knowledge and expertise of both coaches.
“Gatty’s vast experience and knowledge from provincial, Super and international rugby means he is uniquely placed to help develop Clayton as a head coach and support our wider coaching framework,” says Collins.
“Clayton demonstrated this year both with the Gallagher Chiefs in Super Rugby Aotearoa and with the Māori All Blacks that he is ready to progress. This structure allows us to get the best from both coaches.”
Collins says the director of rugby role was new and would focus on supporting the coaching staff and shaping and growing the rugby programme and high-performance programme.
While slightly different, he said the new structure was similar to the set up when the Chiefs won back-to-back Super Rugby titles in 2012 and 2013, when head coach Dave Rennie had former All Blacks coach Wayne Smith in a supporting role.
“We are stoked that both coaches have bought into this new approach, are keen to work together and that the new structure will allow both of them, and the club, to grow and develop.”
Gatland, who returned from leading a record-setting third tour to the Southern Hemisphere as with the Lions, says he was looking forward to returning to the Chiefs environment and contributing to the club’s development in a different role.
“No one was prouder than I was with the gains made by the Gallagher Chiefs during 2021,” he says.
“It was outstanding to see both individuals and the group grow and achieve success and that includes Clayton, who brought his vision and mana to the head coach role. I am excited at the prospect of working with Clayton and the other coaches to build on those foundations as we strive for success in the new Super Rugby Pacific in 2022.”
McMillan says he is grateful for the support he has received, and the faith shown in him by everyone involved in the Chiefs.
“Having lived my life in the Chiefs region, I am a Chiefs club man through and through and like Gats I want to see the Gallagher Chiefs back at the top of the Super Rugby table,” he says.
“As I have said previously, we complement each other well and one of the major attractions for me when I joined the club was to work alongside Gats and benefit from his immense knowledge and experience. We are committed to working together to position the Chiefs Rugby Club for sustained success and I can’t wait to get started.”