Former Irish out-half Ronan O'Gara has confirmed his next coaching venture as he has signed with La Rochelle as the side's new head coach.
The TOP14 club confirmed the news on Wednesday with the Munster legend scheduled to take up the position at the end of July, following the conclusion of Super Rugby.
O'Gara will work alongside La Rochelle Director of Rugby Jonno Gibbes and replaces Xavier Garbajosa who has left the club for the head coach role at Montpellier.
La Rochelle came up short last weekend in the semifinals of the Top 14 as they were defeated 20-6 by Toulouse.
O'Gara helped the Crusaders defend their Super Rugby Title last year and has helped the side finish top of the table this season and secure home playoffs.
O’Gara said: “My family and I have thoroughly enjoyed our time in Christchurch and were welcomed in to 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. 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,” O’Gara said.
A former Ireland international, O’Gara played 128 Tests between 2000-2013 before making the move to coaching. He replaced Leon MacDonald as the BNZ Crusaders’ Backs Coach in 2018, helping guide the side to a consecutive Super Rugby title, and re-signed for the 2019 campaign. Prior to that O’Gara was an assistant coach for Racing 92 in France.