Wednesday 16 October 2019

'It wasn't an easy decision' - Ronan O'Gara confirms return to France for first head coaching role

Ronan O'Gara is returning to the Top 14 next season. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Ronan O'Gara is returning to the Top 14 next season. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Ronan O'Gara will join La Rochelle as head coach next season after the French club confirmed his appointment today.

The former Ireland out-half who is currently working in New Zealand with the Crusaders, where he had the option of extending his stay for a third year, will return to France following his time with Racing 92.

O’Gara will work under Jono Gibbes, who has moved to a director of rugby role.

The move will see O’Gara become a head coach for the first time as he further enhances his rapidly growing reputation.

Munster had sounded out the Cork man’s interest in returning as the province’s backs/attack coach but that never materialised as their former talisman favoured a head coach role.

The Munster and Ireland legend previously spent four-and-a-half seasons in the Racing 92 set-up, starting out as kicking coaching before progressing to take over the defence. He subsequently broadened his experience with Scott Robertson's Crusaders team, overseeing the attack.

La Rochelle reached the semi-finals of the Top 14 and the final of the European Challenge Cup this season.

In a statement on the Crusaders website, O'Gara explained his reasons behind the move.

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"This is one of the best rugby clubs in the world, and it certainly wasn’t an easy decision to move on from this team and their high-performance environment," he said.

"I’m grateful to the Crusaders for the faith they’ve shown in me as a coach, and I’m incredibly fortunate to have worked alongside a world-class playing and management group for the last two seasons. While I see this move to La Rochelle as the next step in my coaching career and an exciting opportunity for my young family, I’d like to think, long-term, this is not necessarily the end of my time with the Crusaders.

"My focus now is helping to deliver a successful 2019 campaign with the side before my family and I return to France at the end of the season."

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