Ronan O’Gara has confirmed that he will take up the role of head coach with French side La Rochelle for the 2019/20 Top 14 season.
O’Gara and the Crusaders have a chance to win a third successive Super Rugby title this year and he has paid tribute to franchise’s staff and players, admitting it is not easy to depart.
“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,” he said.
Although he set for the exit door and is excited about his new move, he has not completely shut out the possibility of a return to the Christchurch-based club in the future.
“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,” he added.
Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson is delighted for his colleague and is grateful for everything he has help the franchise achieve since his arrival.
“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,” he said.
Meanwhile the side’s CEO Colin Mansbridge added to Robertson’s tribute to O’Gara and is looking forward to the last couple of months with the coach before he heads back to France.
“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,” he said.
O’Gara was previously the assistant coach of Racing 92 in France, but this will be his first job leading a club and adds to his ever-growing CV.
Nakarawa Future Set to be Sorted
Leone Nakarawa has been on the hunt for a new club since his Racing 92 sacking last week and according to reports he has found his likely destination
Fijian second-row Leone Nakarawa is set to make a return to former club Glasgow Warriors according to reports.
His late return was branded as a “deplorable example” by his old club and was seen as a reason for his somewhat surprise sacking.
Considering his status among the rugby community, where he is seen by many as the world’s best second-row, his options for a new club were always going to be vast.
The 2018 European Player of the Year is thought to also be on the radar of some English Premiership clubs, with Sale Sharks having formally being reported as a leading club to sign him, but their director of rugby Steve Diamond ruled out a move over the weekend.
All of which has lead to the very real possibility of a return to the Warriors where he made 69-caps during his stint between 2013 and 2016 before departing for France.
His arrival would be a huge boost for the Warriors who are in contention for a Champions Cup knock-out place as well as competing at the top of Conference A of the PRO14, having reached the final last season to fall-short to Leinster. Although this signing would certainly put them in a better position.
Te’o Confirms Move to New Club
England international Ben Te’o has finally been unveiled at his new club following his departure from Worcester at the end of last season
However, despite being a mainstay in Eddie Jones’ England side, he failed to be selected for the recent Rugby World Cup in Japan following an alleged altercation with Mike Brown while at a training camp in Italy.
After being omitted from the 31-man squad Te’o made the switch to French Top 14 giants Toulon while some of their key men were away at the Japanese tournament, and as a brief replacement for departed centre Mathieu Bastareaud.
His short-term contract with Toulon recently ran out, but his future has now been sorted as he prepares for life in Japan as one of 14 non-Japanese players in the Sunwolves squad. A move that also sees him become unavailable for England selection.
As well as his time with Worcester, Te’o also had a two-year stay at Irish province Leinster, and will bring a vast amount of experience to his new team.
Connacht Star Signs Contract Extension
One of Connacht’s biggest stars has confirmed that he will remain with the province for the foreseeable future
Connacht ace Kieran Marmion has put an end to a long spell of speculation surrounding his future by signing a new contract at the western province.
The deal will see the scrum-half continue his stint with Connacht until at least 2023, putting a close to the speculation that he was set for a move abroad, with Saracens reportedly interested in the London-born player.
Connacht head coach Andy Friend is delighted that Marmion has signed on as he believes he is a valuable player to have within the squad.
“Kieran has been an outstanding player for Connacht and for Ireland,” said coach Andy Friend. He is a diligent professional and, through his hard work, he has progressed through the Connacht Academy and on to play for Ireland. His progress demonstrates the support that is available to players through our academy pathway. Kieran’s commitment to Connacht for a further three seasons demonstrates his ambition to contribute at provincial and international level in the coming years. His signing also ensures that we continue to retain a squad equipped to compete at the highest level of European club rugby,” he said.
The 27-year-old is the fifth player to sign an extension with the club in the past two weeks as they look to continue to build for the future with captain Jarrad Butler, Tiernan O’Halloran, Sean O’Brien and Tom Farrell all signing new deals too.
It also comes as a massive boost to the Irish national side as a move abroad for Marmion would have seen him lose his spot in the team, however, with this decision he can be included in new coach’s Andy Farrell’s thoughts.
Having been excluded from Ireland’s Rugby World Cup squad it would have been unsurprising to see him chase a new dream elsewhere, but for now Connacht and Ireland fans will get to watch him on their shores during the prime of his career.
Connacht will hope to use their extension delight to fuel them as they prepare for a tough trip to Toulouse this Saturday in the second round of the Champions Cup.
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