Ronan O’Gara moves closer to home as he becomes La Rochelle head coach

Former Ireland and British & Irish Lions fly-half and Cork native Ronan O’Gara has been appointed head coach at French Top 14 club La Rochelle.

O’Gara will take up the role after leaving New Zealand club Crusaders at the end of the Super Rugby season.

The Corkman has been attack coach at Crusaders for the past two seasons.

O’Gara’s La Rochelle position will see him working under the club’s director of rugby – former Ulster head coach Jono Gibbes.

La Rochelle reached this season’s Top 14 semi-finals and European Challenge Cup final but needed a new head coach following Xavier Garbajosa’s move to Montpellier.

After the Munster man’s playing career ended, O’Gara spent almost five years in assistant coaching roles with French club Racing 92.

“He [O’Gara] knows the Top 14 well, he has experience. He will bring a high level of skill,” said Gibbes.

The Irishman had the option of staying on in his Crusaders role for a third season.

O’Gara said last month that he had held talks with Munster but had told the Irish province he wasn’t interested in a backroom role with the management team of Johann van Graan.

With 128 caps, O’Gara holds the record for the most points scored for Ireland and holds the fourth highest total points haul in the world.

He played for the British and Irish Lions on their 2001, 2005 and 2009 tours and also captained Munster, Ireland and the Lions.

Hopefully O’Gara’s next month will be back to Cork to take the Munster Rugby head coach role in a few years’ time.

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