RONAN O’Gara’s accelerating career path is set for another significant boost after being handed the huge opportunity to become the main man responsible for all rugby affairs at European Cup semi-finalists La Rochelle.
I am extremely proud of the trust that Stade Rochelais continues to show me by appointing me at the head of the team,” said O’Gara this morning.
O’Gara’s significant promotion follows news that his current boss at La Rochelle, Jono Gibbes, is destined to return to Clermont as head coach.
O’Gara is currently head coach while Gibbes is Director of Rugby of the club who will soon tackle Leinster in the European Cup semi-final.
However, the departure of the peripatetic Gibbes – once a European Cup winner at Leinster who was also briefly with Ulster – prompted club big-wigs to ask the highly-regarded O’Gara to step up to assume even more responsibility at the ambitious outfit hugging the Atlantic coast.
“I am obviously very excited about next season,” said a beaming O’Gara. “But first, we have important challenges ahead of us and above all a good season to end in the best possible way.”
Long-suffering Munster supporters craving a return home for their former folk hero to end their decade-long trophy quest may have to wait for another few years as O’Gara’s endless quest for self-knowledge seems set to continue in exile.
“Discussions were initiated a few weeks ago at Jono Gibbes’ request which lead to his early release from June 30,” La Rochelle said in a morning statement.
“At the same time, Stade Rochelais has worked to preserve both ambition and stability of its project. The Club’s priority was to extend its collaboration with its head coach, Ronan O’Gara, and promote him at the head of the professional team.
“The Club is therefore delighted with Ronan’s re-engagement until 2024 and his loyalty to the Stade Rochelais’ project, which he will continue to strengthen through his managerial skills, his top level experience and his full immersion in the club culture.
“Head coach of Stade Rochelais since July 2019, the Irish tactician with 128 selections began his coaching career at Racing 92 in 2013 (French Champion 2016), before joining the Crusaders in 2018 (Super Rugby Champion 2018 and 2019).
“Stade Rochelais would like to thank Jono for his contribution to the performances of the Yellow and Black team since his arrival in 2018 and wish him the best for the rest of his professional career.”