Ronan O'Gara: Former Ireland star promoted to top job at La Rochelle with Jono Gibbes set to depart

Ronan O'Gara won 128 Ireland caps and was part of three British & Irish Lions tours
Ronan O'Gara had coaching roles at Racing 92 and New Zealand club Crusaders before moving to La Rochelle in 2019

Ex-Ireland and British and Irish Lions fly-half Ronan O'Gara has been promoted to the top coaching role at French club La Rochelle for next season.

O'Gara, 44, has been head coach at the Top 14 club under director of rugby Jono Gibbes since 2019.

However with Gibbes departing to become Clermont head coach, La Rochelle have handed O'Gara a new three-year deal which will see him taking sole charge.

O'Gara said he was "extremely proud" of the trust the club are putting in him.

"I am obviously very excited about next season, but first, we have important challenges ahead of us and above all a good season to end in the best possible way," said the former Munster star.

The Atlantic-coast club are having a superb season, currently level on points with Toulouse at the top of the French domestic table and also set to play Leinster in the European Champions Cup semi-finals on 2 May.

After the Munster man's playing career ended, he spent almost five years in assistant coaching roles with Paris club Racing 92.

The Corkman then had a stint as attack coach of New Zealand Super Rugby outfit Crusaders for two seasons before moving back to France to take the La Rochelle position.

O'Gara won 128 Ireland caps and played for the British and Irish Lions on their 2001, 2005 and 2009 tours and also captained Munster, Ireland and the Lions.

Former New Zealand international Gibbes, who was Clermont forwards coach between 2014 and 2017, replaces Franck Azema who is moving to become Montpellier head coach.

Gibbes, 44, also had a one-year stint as Ulster's head coach which began with being under then director of rugby Les Kiss before being in sole charge for a number of months after Kiss' departure from the Irish province in January 2018.

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