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Mike Philips recounts crazy night Shane Williams tried to fight Warren Gatland

BY Jack Tunney  ·  Thursday Feb 22, 2024

A Shane Williams versus Warren Gatland fight wouldn’t have been on anyone’s bingo card at the start of 2008, but that’s exactly what almost happened when the Kiwi-born coach first took over at Wales.

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Mike Philips has been chatting about the almost calamitous occasion with Drew Mitchell on the Aussie lads new show, Kick Offs and Kick Ons.

“First game in charge he quickly learned about Welsh rugby. We beat England away in 2008, that was his first game and the first time Wales had won up there in 20-odd years so we were all pretty excited, I scored the winning try at the end. I remember afterwards we were allowed into Cardiff.” 

“We have a few beers and he [Gatland] comes to sit next to me and he goes ‘You could be world-class one day – and I was like I’m already f****** world-class! I think that one comment got me about 50 caps, he loved that.

“Then the night went on, and it’s public knowledge now, but one of the players, Shane Williams,  had a few too many beers, I don’t know what happened, but actually offered him outside for scrap.

47 The Cut – SE1 8LF – London – UK

“The Monday morning Shane has to do this apology in front of everyone and then Gats goes, ‘Guys it’s the first team I’ve ever coached where the backs are the fighters, the drinkers, and the shaggers. I thought, this guy is amazing”

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After waking up that morning with very little recollection about the night before, Williams had rushed into Gatland’s office after a recovery pool debrief with Tom Shanklin in which he was brought up to speed on the nights events.

“Shane, Shane, Shane, chill out, calm down, what you on about?”, Gatland had asked him when Williams had burst in profusely apologising.

Shane was then told by Gatland to sit down and they had a chat about the game, the games that were coming up and about winning the Grand Slam. But before he left, the Welsh coach added:

“Right, I have to go now because I have an interview in 10 minutes. But if you call me a fat, useless kiwi t**t again, you’ll never play for Wales!” 

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