Warren Gatland bade an emotional farewell to Wales on Saturday as his successor Wayne Pivac’s reign started with a 43-33 win over Barbarians.
New Zealander Gatland spent 12 years in charge of the Wales team, guiding them to a pair of Rugby World Cup semi-finals and three Grand Slams, but he led their opponents in Cardiff, where Pivac was at the helm for the first time.
Josh Adams and Ken Owens both scored two tries apiece as Pivac began life as Wales coach with a victory.
Gatland, who was given a rousing ovation on the pitch after the game, thanked the crowd at the Principality Stadium for their support during the past dozen years.
“It’s been brilliant for 12 years,” Gatland told Channel 4.
“I love this place, you guys have given me so much.
“My time at Wales has been absolutely brilliant, there’s a really special place in my heart for Wales and the people here.
“It’s been incredibly special.”
FULL TIME A high-scoring affair that lived up to its billing. Thanks for an entertaining afternoon, @Barbarian_FC.
— Welsh Rugby Union (@WelshRugbyUnion) November 30, 2019
Gatland is returning to his homeland to take charge of the Chiefs and, though it came at his team’s expense, he was pleased to see Wales get up and running under Pivac.
“I’ll be back some day, maybe sitting in the stand,” he added.
“It’s been pretty cool and it’s been brilliant for Wales to win today, and a new regime.
“It’s been so brilliant to be able to put smiles on people’s faces from time to time and [win] a few Grand Slams.”