Jono Gibbes: Ulster coach holds talks with La Rochelle

Gibbes has previous experience of Top14 rugby after three seasons as forwards coach with Clermont Auvergne
Gibbes has previous experience of Top14 rugby after three seasons as forwards coach with Clermont Auvergne

Outgoing Ulster head coach Jono Gibbes has held talks with La Rochelle about the coaching vacancy at the French club, BBC Sport understands.

He has already agreed to take charge of Waikato and is still expected to return to his native New Zealand this summer.

The Top 14 side say they hope to make an announcement in the near future.

Ulster, who granted Gibbes' request for an early release from his contract for family reasons, will host Ospreys in a European play-off on Sunday.

The winner will secure the seventh and final qualifying place from the Pro14 for the 2018-19 European Champions Cup.

Ulster could not comment on French media reports that Gibbes was being pursued by La Rochelle.

The former Leinster and Clermont Auvergne forwards coach flew to the west coast of France during a rest day for the Ulster squad.

He has signed a contract to become head coach of Waikato in the Mitre 10 Cup after a decade working in Europe and plans to return to New Zealand to be closer to his family at the end of Ulster's season.

Gibbes, 41, was promoted to the role of head coach at Kingspan Stadium in January following the departure of director of rugby Les Kiss and led the side to a four-match unbeaten run at the end of the regular season.

La Rochelle finished outside the play-off places in the Top14 table this season and are seeking a successor to Patrice Collazo, who stepped down after seven years in charge.