Guernsey Press

Rugby coach Gatland’s visit ‘a notable’ comms failure

HANDLING of a visit by British & Irish Lions rugby coach Warren Gatland in April 2021 was a ‘notable failure’ in communication during the pandemic.


Mr Gatland visited to check out the island as a possible location for a training camp for the touring side ahead of the series in South Africa.

At that time non-essential travel had only just restarted, but arrivals still had to self-isolate for 14 days, with a test on arrival and test on day 13.

But Mr Gatland did not have to undergo quarantine.

The report said the States attempted to keep islanders informed of developments in a timely way, but the Warren Gatland incident was a failure.

‘It must be noted that one high-profile instance was the variation for visiting Lions rugby coach Warren Gatland, which resulted in concerns in the community about the fairness of this specific case,’ the report said.

‘It is accepted that the reasons for the trip to the Bailiwick and the measures put in place to ensure islanders' safety, and enable the decision-making around the appropriateness of those measures, should have been explained more clearly.’

Civil Contingencies Authority chairman Deputy Peter Ferbrache, then States chief executive Paul Whitfield and director of Public Health Dr Nicola Brink all met the New Zealander.

Deputy Ferbrache subsequently apologised for the poor communication.

Communications broken down

MORE than 400 media releases and more than 70 live briefings were produced by the States communication team in the first two years of the pandemic.

The communications response was praised in the report.

In 2020 there were 32 live briefings, and then a further 42 the following year, which allowed for media scrutiny of decision-making.

The report underlined the importance that the communication was scientist-led to help understanding.

The communication team also drafted 228 Covid media releases in 2020, and 214 in 2021.