Ronan O’Gara have moved a step closer to a return to club coaching in France after La Rochelle officially confirmed that Montpellier target Xavier Garbajosa is leaving.


Despite enjoying success at the Super Rugby Crusaders, the former Racing assistant has been angling for a return to the French game and Garbajosa’s imminent departure has opened the door for O’Gara to work under Jono Gibbes 10 years after they clashed in one of the most high profile European Cup games ever.

New Zealander Gibbes was assistant to Michael Cheika at Leinster when they dethroned O’Gara’s Munster as European champions in a semi-final that took place in front of an attendance of 82,000 at Dublin’s Croke Park.

Firmly on opposite sides back then, the old adversaries will now likely pair up at last week’s beaten Challenge Cup finalists La Rochelle, the club Gibbes took charge of last November after he quit Ulster and spent a short time at home working in New Zealand.

O’Gara is believed to have agreed a three-year deal that will see him leave the Crusaders following a two-season stint in Christchurch.

The former Ireland out-half spent four years as assistant coach at Racing before switching to New Zealand. However, having initially been touted for a possible freelance role with France at the 2019 World Cup, O’Gara is now poised to re-emerge at Top 14 level with a club that has massive ambitions of making a title breakthrough in the near future.

The Irishman, who is currently in South Africa with the Crusaders, had said in April about the France national team approach: “There was one or two approaches from an agent, that’s as far we’ve got. As anyone knows I have an amount of work to do here, which is really important to me, and if there is anything Razor (Robertson) and the Crusaders would be the first to know about it.”


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