"Following on-going and detailed reviews it was agreed that it is in the best interests of all concerned to end the contract with immediate effect. A major factor in the timing of this decision is the importance of having the new coach in place in the lead up to the forthcoming Six Nations Championship and ultimately to maximise preparations for the Rugby World Cup in 2003.?
Gatland himself said in the statement: "I want to thank the players and wish them all the best for the future. I look forward to fulfilling a new challenge in rugby."
Declan Kidney has been appointed as assistant but will carry on his current position with Munster until the completion of their Celtic League and European Cup commitments. Brian O'Brien will continue as Ireland team manager, also to the conclusion of the Six Nations championship 2004..