WATCH: Jono Gibbes Post-Game Interview Regarding La Rochelle Link

WATCH: Jono Gibbes Post-Game Interview Regarding La Rochelle Link

In his final game in charge of Ulster at the Kingspan Stadium, outgoing head coach Jono Gibbes secured top-flight European rugby for the Irish province next season as they comfortably defeated Ospreys (35-17) in a Champions Cup Play-off fixture.

Gibbes, who arrived last summer, will return home to New Zealand on Wednesday after Ulster Rugby granted him an early release from his contract due to family reasons.

In March, the former Leinster and Clermont forwards coach was appointed to coach Waikato in this year's upcoming national provincial rugby championship, the Hamilton-based club were relegated from the top flight of the NPC last year for the first time in more than 20 years.

However, on Thursday, it emerged that Gibbes flew to the west coast of France to La Rochelle headquarters with reports suggesting that he had used his day off to meet with the Top 14 side as they search for a replacement for Patrice Collazo, who exited the club after seven years in charge.

Gibbes understands that the timing of the trip, just three days before Ulster's most important game of the season, was far from ideal but stressed that his departure - on a non-training day - did not compromise preparations as Ulster had three-weeks to prepare for the Welsh region.

Gibbes was asked following the match if he was now heading to Waikato or La Rochelle.

"Ah ... well, it's making sure that the rest of the packing's all done, we've got to clean the house and we've got to get a flight on Wednesday. So that's the next thing that'll be done."

French publication Midi Olympique are 95% certain that Gibbes will take over at La Rochelle. Heading up a coaching ticket involving Grégory Patat (forwards), Akvsenti Giorgadze (lineouts) & Xavier Garbajosa (backs).

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