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O'Gara swops NZ for France


Ronan O'Gara has finally admitted his next step is a return to Top 14

Crusaders backs coach Ronan O’Gara has confirmed the 2019 season will be his last with the Christchurch-based club, having accepted te head coaching role under Jono Gibbes with French club La Rochelle.

O’Gara said: “My family and I have thoroughly enjoyed our time in Christchurch and were welcomed into the Crusaders family with open arms when we arrived in early 2018. 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.

“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,” O’Gara said.

A former Ireland international, O’Gara played 128 Tests between 2000 and 2013 before making the move to coaching. He replaced Leon MacDonald as the Crusaders’ backs coach in 2018, helping guide the side to a consecutive Super Rugby title, and re-signed for the 2019 campaign. Prior to that O’Gara was an assistant coach for Racing 92 in France.

Crusaders CEO Colin Mansbridge said: “We’ve been fortunate to have someone of Ronan’s calibre join our organisation for the past two seasons, and he has certainly added to the legacy of our club during his time here, imparting his knowledge of the game and immense international experience on our playing group.

“We look forward to celebrating the rest of the season with him and, come the end of our 2019 campaign, wish Ronan, Jess and family all the very best for their next chapter.”

Head coach Scott Robertson added: “Ronan quickly endeared himself to our playing group when he joined us last season and has established great relationships with our backs.

“He stepped into this environment and really challenged our thinking early on, providing the fresh perspective we were after in our coaching group. We’ve seen a huge amount of personal growth in Ronan during his time here, he continues to be a great friend to me and he’s been an integral part of our success to date. On behalf of the Crusaders team, we wish Ronan and his family all the very best on their return to France.”

La Rochelle director of rugby Gibbes told a press conference: “Ronan O’Gara joins the staff as head coach. He knows the Top 14 well and has plenty of experience so we are very happy to have him with us next season. “He will bring a high level of skill to the coaching staff and I can’t wait to start the season with him alongside Gregory Patat and Akvsenti Giorgadze.”

WATCH: Episode six of Don’t Mess with Jim, the weekly RugbyPass series hosted by former Scotland international Hamilton

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Ronan O'Gara has finally admitted his next step is a return to Top 14
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