O'Gara appointed head coach with French side La Rochelle

O'Gara appointed head coach with French side La Rochelle
Ronan O'Gara with Crusaders. Picture: Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images

RONAN O'Gara has been appointed in a head coaching role with Top 14 side La Rochelle.

The French club confirmed the Munster legend's appointment, and he will be in charge next month for preseason.

He is currently concluding a two-year coaching stint with Crusaders in New Zealand, who are still in the mix for the Super Rugby title

O'Gara will work alongside La Rochelle Director of Rugby Jonno Gibbes.

O'Gara’s return to France is a big step as he will have full responsibility for on-field coaching at the club. He previously turned down the opportunity to return to Racing 92 under Laurent Travers.

In other news, Warren Gatland has been appointed head coach for the British & Irish Lions Tour of South Africa in 2021.

Gatland is unbeaten in two consecutive tours to Australia and New Zealand as head coach of the Lions, and following today’s appointment becomes only the second person to lead a third tour after Sir Ian McGeechan.

The 55-year-old will start as head coach on 1 August 2020, and will work exclusively with the Lions until the conclusion of the 2021 tour to South Africa 12 months later.

Gatland knows first-hand the challenge posed by the Springboks, having already been part of a touring party to South Africa in 2009 as McGeechan’s forwards coach, but is confident of delivering success for the Lions in 2021.

Meanwhile, Ireland U20 head coach Noel McNamara has made eight for today’s clash with Italy in Santa Fe, 2.30pm Irish time.

Ireland will be looking to bounce back from their defeat to Australia but will have to do so with a much-changed side due to injuries to McNamara’s squad.

Rosscarbery’s John Hodnett (knee) and Stewart Moore (shoulder) are both ruled out for the remainder of the tournament.

Their squad places have been taken by the newly-arrived Luke Clohessy from Shannon and UCD’s David Ryan.

Ireland need a bonus point win by a big margin and favourable results in later games to make it to the semi-finals of the competition.

McNamara also has five players making their first starts for the Ireland U20s with forwards John McKee, Michael Milne, Thomas Ahern and Ciaran Booth along with scrum half Colm Reilly all starting.

Munster’s Ben Healy will join Reilly in the half backs with Jake Flannery moved to full back. Turner is joined in the centre by versatile back Cormac Foley, who made two starts at scrum half during the U-20 Six Nations.

Bantry’s Josh Wycherley has recovered from a knock in the Australian game is joined by McKee and Milne in the front row, while Munster Academy lock Ahern steps up for his U20 debut alongside Ryan Baird.

Injury replacements Clohessy, Ryan, Aaron O’Sullivan and Max O’Reilly could win their first U-20 caps off the bench while Charlie Ward returns from a hamstring injury that kept him out of the Australia game.

IRELAND: J Flannery, A Kernohan, L Turner (c), C Foley, R Russell, B Healy, C Reilly, J Wycherley, J McKee, M Milne, T Ahern, R Baird, D McCann, C Booth, A Allison.

Replacements: D Adamson, T Clarkson, C Ward, D Tierney-Martin, C Ryan, N Murray, L Clohessy, C Casey, J Wren, D Ryan, A O’Sullivan, M O’Reilly.

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