Super Rugby champions the Crusaders have announced that former Ireland international Ronan O’Gara will join the team as their back-line coach for 2018 Super Rugby season.
O’Gara will leave his role as Assistant Coach with French Top 14 side, Racing 92, to become the new Backs Coach for the Crusaders, replacing Leon MacDonald.
O’Gara played as first five-eighth for Ireland from 2000 – 2013. He holds the record for the most points scored for Ireland and holds the fourth highest total points haul in the world, with 16 tries, 176 conversions, 202 penalties and 15 drop goals for his national team. He is also the sixth most capped international player in the world, and as well as his 128 games for Ireland, he has played for the British and Irish Lions in their 2001, 2005 and 2009 tours. He has also captained Munster, Ireland and the British and Irish Lions.
Crusaders CEO Hamish Riach said the appointment was hugely exciting for the Crusaders team and fans.
“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 in Paris. The international experience and exceptional skillset that Ronan can bring to this team is fantastic, and 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,” Mr Riach said. “We believe that Ronan is the right fit for this team and we cannot wait to have him over here working with us and contributing to our success in the season ahead.”
O’Gara said that to be able to coach in New Zealand for a team as respected and successful as the Crusaders was an incredible opportunity at this stage in his coaching career.
“New Zealand sets the bar in world rugby, and Super Rugby is recognized as one of the toughest international rugby tournaments. So to coach in New Zealand – for the current Super Rugby champions – is an inticing prospect for any coach. I cannot wait to join Scott Robertson, Brad Mooar and Jason Ryan in the Crusaders coaching group and to work with the outstanding group of players we have,” O’Gara said.
“I have a lot of respect for Scott Robertson, having played against him in two All Blacks v Ireland tests in 2002, and then following his coaching success since. I am sure I can learn a lot from him and the other coaches, management and players at the Crusaders and I hope that I can also make a worthy contribution to the group by bringing my own personal experience and flavour to the team.
“I am immensely grateful to the Racing 92 club for their understanding and cooperation in allowing me an early release to take up this Crusaders role. It is not easy to walk away from the club that gave me my first break in coaching and I will miss all of those I have been lucky enough to work with there. This is an exciting next step in my coaching career though and one that my family and I are ready to make. It is clear that there is a special and successful culture at the Crusaders, which I feel honoured to be invited to be a part of,” O’Gara said.
Crusaders Head Coach Scott Robertson said he was thrilled to have O’Gara joining the coaching team: “The skills and international experience that Ronan brings is the perfect complement to our current coaching group. We are lucky to have the continuity of Brad and Jason in their roles, while 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.”
O’Gara will join the Crusaders from the new year.