Gatland earns new deal

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The Independent Online

Warren Gatland, who has overseen Ireland's recent re-emergence as a force in international rugby, has been rewarded with a new contract as coach for a further two years.

The New Zealander will coach Ireland until the end of the Six Nations in 2002, the Irish Rugby Football Union said yesterday. His assistant, Eddie O'Sullivan, has also agreed to continue for a further two years.

Gatland seemed to be on his way out of the job when Ireland collapsed to a record 50-18 defeat against England in their Six Nations opener.

However, he took a risk by fielding a number of new players and saw his team surge to three straight wins, including Ireland's first win over France in Paris since 1972, before last Saturday's loss against Wales.

"I am very happy to be continuing my role and I look forward to building further on our work with all the young and exciting talent that has emerged this season," Gatland said.