Ronan O’Gara appointed head coach of La Rochelle
42-year-old leaves coaching role with Canterbury Crusaders to join Top14 outfit
Ronan O’Gara is to join La Rochelle as head coach. Photograph: Andrew Cornaga/Inpho
Ronan O’Gara has been appointed as head coach of French Top 14 club La Rochelle for next season. The former Munster, Ireland and Lions outhalf spent four and a half seasons with Racing 92 in Paris (July 2013-December 2017) in a variety of coaching roles including kicking, skills and defence coach before joining New Zealand’s Canterbury Crusaders in 2017.
O’Gara worked under head coach Scott Roberston at a Crusaders team that won the Super Rugby championship last season and are well placed to retain that title. The tournament ends on July 6th. The Cork man had an option of a third year in Canterbury but opted to take up an offer from La Rochelle.
It is the first time that the 42-year-old O’Gara will take on the responsibilities of head coach and will do so under La Rochelle’s director of rugby Jono Gibbes, the former Leinster forwards and Ulster head coach.
In a statement on the Crusaders website O’Gara said: “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.”
La Rochelle reached the semi-finals of the Top 14 where they were beaten by Toulouse and they were also beaten by Clermont in the European Challenge Cup final.
Gibbes said of O’Gara’s appointment: “Ronan O’Gara joins the staff as head coach. He knows the Top 14 very well through his experiences. He’ll bring a high level of skills.”