Warren Gatland: Wales coach says Welsh rugby must not return to doldrums
Departing Wales coach Warren Gatland says it would break his heart if Wales regressed following his departure.
Gatland signed off his 12-year tenure in charge of Wales with a 40-17 defeat by New Zealand in the World Cup bronze-medal match in Tokyo.
Since he took over at the end of 2007, Wales have won three Grand Slams and reached two World Cup semi-finals.
"After what we've done and achieved, it would break my heart if Wales went back into the doldrums," said Gatland.
Scarlets coach Wayne Pivac will take over from Gatland, who said he had already dealt with the emotions of his final game in charge with the majority of his backroom staff also leaving.
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"It was about the players," said Gatland.
"Shaun Edwards spoke to the group and so did Robin McBryde. Alan Phillips had a few words as well. There wasn't a lot to be said.
"We spoke about the opportunity to go out and play a good side. We spoke about how disappointing it was that we weren't in the final.
"But to play the All Blacks, at least that was a game that you could look forward to.
"I've already gone through that process of knowing it was my last game and not trying to get too emotional about it.
"I came to the realisation a while ago. I'd prepared myself for it I've got to start thinking about the next challenges in life.
"For what we've achieved in the last 12 years we feel like we've put some respect back into Wales as an international team."
Gatland hopes the success he and his team have enjoyed will lay a solid foundation for Pivac.
"The new coaches come in and I hope they can continue to build," said Gatland.
"It's been good for [backs coach] Stephen Jones to be out here and see how things are run.
"There's an opportunity for the new group to come in and build on what we've created and to improve on it.
"It's difficult. I know how tough it is to win Six Nations and you can't be too greedy and expect to win it every year.
"But it's about going out and performing well in Six Nations and hopefully get a few Six Nations titles along the way.
"Then we have to be as competitive as we possibly can be against the other top nations and we feel we have done that."
'Wring the sponge dry'
Although Gatland played down the emotion of Friday's match in Tokyo, the 56-year-old admitted he would miss the attitude of the squad.
"They're a great bunch of men to work with," said Gatland.
"They've been exemplary in the way they've conducted themselves since we've been in Japan.
"They never complain about how hard they train and work. If you ask them to run through a brick wall, they'll ask 'what do you want me to do when I get to the other side?'
"For such a small playing nation, we have to really push ourselves hard because we don't have the same number of players and depth of players.
"You've just got to wring the sponge as dry as you possibly can because that's the way we've performed and got results in the past."