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Alamy Stock Photo Ronan O'Gara (file pic).
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Ronan O'Gara commits future to La Rochelle after England link
The Irish coach has extended his contract until 2027.

IRISH RUGBY great Ronan O’Gara has extended his contract as head coach with European champions La Rochelle until 2027, the French Top 14 club confirmed on Tuesday.

Former Ireland fly-half O’Gara, 45, had been tipped in recent weeks as a possible successor to England coach Eddie Jones.

But the former Munster player, who represented his country 128 times and played for the British and Irish Lions, will stay in western France where he has been on the coaching staff since 2019, and head coach since 2021.

“I love my group. Gradually, we are changing status and I believe that this is only the beginning,” said O’Gara.

“And then the supporters here are incredible. This passion that drives them, this support that they have given me. Yes, I have to say, all that made my decision easy. It’s a big responsibility but also a lot of pride to continue here.”

O’Gara retired from playing in 2013 and has had coaching spells with French club Racing 92, winning the Top 14 title in 2016, and New Zealand side the Crusaders, where he won two Super Rugby titles.

He stepped up to head coach at La Rochelle in 2021, leading the yellow and black to the title of European champions in 2022, the first major trophy won by the club.

“I’m very happy and proud of Ronan’s extension, which is part of a sustainable performance objective,” said club president Vincent Merling.

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“Together, with our supporters, we have experienced great collective emotions and I am convinced that we will experience others in the coming seasons.”

The extension comes on the day England coach Jones was sacked nine months from the World Cup with O’Gara having been among the names touted to succeed the Australian after the global tournament in France.

O’Gara is serving a 10-week ban from the French rugby union league for “harming the best interests of rugby” after a run-in with match officials on 5 November. It is his fourth suspension of the year.

– © AFP 2022

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