Gatland v Jones: A Guinness Six Nations rivalry resumed at the Rugby World Cup

Warren Gatland and Eddie Jones will go head-to-head once again at this autumn’s Rugby World Cup, with Wales and Australia facing off in Pool C on Sunday.

Warren Gatland and Eddie Jones will go head-to-head once again at this autumn’s Rugby World Cup, with Wales and Australia facing off in Pool C on Sunday.

Wales come into the game off the back of successive bonus-point wins over Fiji and Portugal, while Australia will be looking to bounce back from their defeat at the hands of the Pacific Islanders.

While the match in Lyon will bring together two proud rugby nations and yield vital points for progression to the knockouts, the contest will also resume one of the sport’s most intriguing rivalries off the pitch.

A sporting encounter between an Aussie and a Kiwi seldom needs more spice, but the pair are set to meet on the world stage having sparred during the 2019 Guinness Six Nations.

The duo never duelled four years ago in Japan but are no strangers to doing so – we took a look back at their three Guinness Six Nations encounters.

2016 – England 25-21 Wales

It was more than seven years ago that Jones’ England and Gatland’s Wales first met, and it was the former who drew first blood in the battle between the two coaches.

England sealed the Triple Crown with a thrilling 25-21 victory at Twickenham en route to the Grand Slam in Jones’ first campaign.

The hosts raced into a 16-0 lead at half-time thanks to an Anthony Watson try and the boot of Owen Farrell, but Wales fought back through tries from Dan Biggar, George North and Taulupe Faletau to summon the ghosts from the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Gatland’s Wales produced a stunning comeback to beat England 28-25 just a few months earlier as the hosts crashed out of their own World Cup at the group stage.

But England were able to hold on this time as Jones got a first Championship victory over Gatland.

2018 – England 12-6 Wales

It would be another two years before the rivalry resumed, with Gatland taking a sabbatical in 2017 and handing the reins temporarily to Rob Howley in the process.

England took victory at Principality Stadium in Gatland’s absence on the way to a second successive Championship, and Jones would make it three victories in a row against Wales upon the New Zealander’s return in 2018.

If the first duel between the pair was an enthralling end-to-end encounter, it was a more attritional battle two years later as a pair of tries from Jonny May saw England edge a 12-6 victory.

May took just two minutes and 20 seconds to open the scoring, racing onto a Farrell kick before sneaking home in the corner after 20 minutes.

But any notion that two early tries would precipitate a free-scoring encounter would prove misplaced as both defences came out on top after the break.

Victory also kept alive England’s hopes of a third Championship in a row, and while those dreams were eventually dashed by Ireland, it also meant a second win for Jones over Gatland.

2019 – Wales 21-13 England

Gatland would have his revenge, however, and in some style too.

Both sides arrived in Cardiff with Grand Slam hopes still intact after a pair of victories each, but it was only Wales’ that survived after a rip-roaring encounter that saw them end up 21-13 victors.

There was little to pick between the sides with three-quarters of the match played, with England leading 13-9 thanks to Tom Curry’s try.

But a decisive score from Cory Hill after more than 30 phases of patient attack from Wales edged Gatland’s men in front before Josh Adams sealed victory two minutes from time.

It is a contest that lives long in the memory, at least for Wales fans, as they sealed their first victory over England since 2015 and first in the Championship since 2013 on their way to an historic Grand Slam.

It would prove the last of Gatland’s three Grand Slams with Wales as an era came to an end in 2019.

That Gatland was finally able to get one over Jones in their Guinness Six Nations battles was no doubt satisfying too, and he has a chance to level up the scores this autumn after returning to the Welsh helm.