The accident happened at the 48-year-old’s family beach house in New Zealand during a visit over Easter.
“He was cleaning windows when he lost his balance and fell three metres onto concrete taking the full impact on his heels. He suffered multiple fractures to the right calcaneus and also a fracture to the left calcaneus. Consequently, he is in leg casts and requires surgery by the leading orthopaedic surgeon in the Waikato to reconstruct his right heel.”
– WELSH RUGBY UNION STATEMENT
The WRU confirmed Gatland’s return to Wales has been delayed, but say it should not have any major impact on preparations for forthcoming Wales matches.
They added that although it could be several weeks before Gatland fully recovers, he is expected to be able to return to active coaching duties before his recuperation is complete. His assistants will oversee some duties during the early stages of his recovery.
While in New Zealand, Gatland will continue to receive information primarily from Rob Howley, Robin McBryde, Shaun Edwards and Neil Jenkins as they observe and monitor squad players and potential players over the next few weeks.
Further information gathered by the Head of Physical Performance, Adam Beard, Head of Performance Analysis, Rhys Long and National Medical Performance Manager, Prav Mathema, will also be sent directly to Gatland.
Assistant Coach Rob Howley will oversee day-to-day management of the coaching staff in Wales and will play a key role in liaising between the Wales-based staff and the Head Coach during Gatland’s temporary absence from camp. Team Manager Alan Phillips will keep the Head Coach informed of all other squad preparation issues.
The WRU Group Chief Executive, Roger Lewis, has approved the plan for temporary injury cover and he has indicated that although there is no current requirement for any of the staff to be appointed caretaker Head Coach, he and Gatland have agreed to recommend to the WRU Board that Howley would fill the role if required.