Warren Gatland returns to lead Wales in 2023 Six Nations

Warren Gatland returns to lead Wales in 2023 Six Nations

The next time the Welsh rugby union team take to the field it will be against the current number one ranked side in world rugby, Ireland. The Welsh will take on the Irish in the 2023 Six Nations at the Principality Stadium in February, and it will mark the start of the second Warren Gatland era.

The Welsh Rugby Union moved quickly to dispense with the services of Wayne Pivac after a disappointing autumn for the team. Pivac entered the autumn internationals under pressure, and after another disappointing series of matches, the WRU decided it was time to act.

WRU couldn't wait for the Six Nations

The Six Nations is the last big competition before next year's Rugby World Cup. Another disappointing sequence of results in the 2023 Six Nations would have left Pivac's position untenable, with the WRU in the impossible position of having to sack him less than six months out from the World Cup.

The WRU couldn't take that gamble, and in order to give the new coach time to settle in ahead of the World Cup, they decided to act now.

Pivac was in charge of Wales for 34 matches. He took over from Warren Gatland after the 2019 World Cup, and of those 34 matches, Wales won only 13 times.

The autumn internationals were the final act. Three losses out of four was too much. But it wasn't just the defeats. As is often the case, it was the manner of the defeats.

Pivac's side started badly, losing 55-23 to the All Blacks. Everyone knows that New Zealand can beat any team on a given day, but this was an absolute thrashing. A 32 points loss at home for an established side like Wales is exceptionally poor. A defeat to the All Blacks will be tolerated, but this was far worse than just a loss.

Victory over Argentina; The only thing Wales can take from the Autumn Internationals

Wales did bounce back from that mauling by defeating Argentina 20-13 in their second match. This was actually a very good win by all accounts. Argentina arrived in Wales on the back of a 30-29 win over England at Twickenham the previous week. So confidence amongst the Pumas would have been high.

Although, it could be argued the other way, as Argentina then went and lost 52-29 to Scotland the following weekend.

Regardless of the quality of the Argentine performance, that win was as good as it got for Wales in the autumn matches, and Pivac's future was probably sealed by what happened the following weekend, when Wales somehow managed to lose 13-12 at home to Georgia.

Those are the sort of results that see off head coaches under pressure. The only thing that granted Pivac a stay of execution was the fact that Wales had a fixture the following weekend.

And that didn't go much better either, at least in the second half it didn't. Wales were doing okay at the break, leading Australia 20-13. Then in the second half the wheels really fell off as the Welsh conceded 26 points to eventually lose the match 39-34.

With that second half capitulation, any lingering doubts about relieving Pivac of his job disappeared. It was a done deal.

The second Gatland era

The autumn performance against Argentina, and the first half against Australia shows Gatland that there is plenty still to work with at Wales. There is an embarrassment of riches in the back row, and now Gatland has the Six Nations to work out how to get the best out of the likes of Justin Tipuric, Taulupe Faletau, and Jac Morgan.

But anybody expecting Gatland to be able to come in and sort everything out with the wave of a magic wand may be disappointed.

For all of Wales' back row quality, there are gaping holes elsewhere in the team, and Gatland won't have Shaun Edwards by his side either. Edwards was pivotal to the success Wales had under Gatland the first time around. And for anybody who doubts his quality, just look at the difference in the France team since he went there.

2023 Six Nations betting

The Welsh are +1400 to win the Six Nations, that makes them fourth favorites. Ireland are favorites at +140, with France next at +170.

England - another side to sack their head coach since the autumn internationals - are next at +450. The only sides behind Wales with the best rugby betting online sites are Scotland (+2000), and Italy (+50000).

The main reason France are second favorites is because they have to play away to Ireland and England in the 2023 competition. Other than that, they would most certainly have been favorites to win back-to-back championships.

2023 Six Nations Winner BettingBetOnlineBetUSBovada

In the 2023 Rugby World Cup betting odds things don't look much better for the Welsh. Here they are seventh in the betting, down at +2800. That puts them well outside the top six teams in the pecking order, and in the same category as Argentina, who are +3000.

For the record, France are the favorites at +300.

France To win 2023 Rugby World Cup

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2023 Six Nations will be a rebuid job for Gatland

2023 looks set to be a year of rebuilding for Wales. Just being competitive in the Six Nations will be a starting point for them. There is no bet on Wales to win the championship, that would be foolish at this stage.

But come closer to the competition when the prop bets are announced, it could be worth looking at a bet like Wales winning three or more games, or to finish above England, depending on the odds.

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Dean Etheridge

Dean is a big sports fan and loves to write about sports betting. His favorite leagues are NFL and the English Premier League. Dean has been writing for OnlineSportsBetting.net since 2018.