RONAN O’GARA will move to Super Rugby champions Crusaders at the end of this year and his last game with Racing 92 will be their first game in their new U Arena stadium.
While leaving will be difficult, the Cork legend said he couldn’t miss the opportunity to become backs coach with one of the powerhouses of New Zealand rugby.
“This is something that won’t come around again in terms of a coaching opportunity, and I have to take it. I am very much an ‘in-the-now’ type of person, I get stuck into the project. And I’m convinced things work themselves out for a reason.”
The Douglas native said Racing owner Jacky Lorenzetti had tried his best to convince him to stay in Paris, but that he put no obstacles in the way of the move.
“The moment I told him of the Crusaders’ interest, he recognised it was a fantastic opportunity.
“We still had four conversations to the effect of ‘are you sure you want to go?!’ In an odd way, there might even have been a bit of pride that a rugby institution such as the Crusaders would come to our club looking for one of our coaches,” O’Gara explained.
The Top 14 club confirmed in a statement yesterday it: “did not want to deprive one of its faithful servants of a great opportunity.”
Crusaders CEO Hamish Riach said the appointment was hugely exciting.
“Ronan O’Gara is one of rugby’s international super-stars. He was a brilliant player and has gone on to prove himself as an outstanding coach with Racing 92.
“We know that Crusaders fans will be excited to have someone of his calibre joining our coaching group as we seek to defend the Super Rugby title in 2018.”
Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson said he was thrilled to have O’Gara on board from January 1.
“The skills and international experience that Ronan brings is the perfect complement to our current coaching group. Ronan will bring his fresh perspective and new ideas, which is always welcomed. With our coaching group and playing squad now complete, I can’t wait to get this 2018 season underway.”