WARREN Gatland flies back to New Zealand having coached a ‘unique’ team in the Barbarians.

He brought his family and friends from across the world to Cardiff’s Principality Stadium to see the tourists lose 43-33 to Wales as he waved goodbye to the nation, the national team he coached for 12 years and the fans, who gave him a standing ovation at the end.

Gatland said the Barbarians — who scored five tries — should continue to be part of the global rugby family. 

He said: “I think they are unique.

“I think it is something which is very special and it takes you back to the ethos about what rugby is all about, which is about bringing people together and, for the Barbarians, bringing players from different nations.

Gatland and Sam Warburton

Warren Gatland and Sam Warburton 

“We should make sure that it is not so much protected but we should encourage the opportunity for players to experience what we have had this week as coaches.

“It has been great. Players have interacted with players from other countries and coaches are doing the same thing.

“We look back at the history of the Barbarians and the big part it has played in rugby. It is something we should look to continue for the future – and that is from the involvement that we (Gatland and assistant coach Robin McBryde) have had this week.”

Gatland and Robbie Deans

Warren Gatland and Robbie Deans talk to the Barbarians team

Welsh national coach Wayne Pivac also believes the Barbarians are a special club.

He said: “There is a lot of throwing and running in the games and it entertains the crowds. I think there is a place for the Barbarians in the future.”

Gatland will be off to Auckland to coach in Super Rugby from next week – indeed, he said he will be picking up his car on Tuesday when he lands, having a quick shower at home and then ‘off to training’.

But the game on the opposite side of the fence for once in Cardiff was ‘a day I wanted to enjoy’.