Crusaders assistant coach Ronan OGara, Crusaders won't be helping France ahead of the World Cup. Photo: Iain McGregor/www.photosport.nz

PARIS Crusaders assistant coach and ex-Ireland fly-half Ronan O'Gara has ruled himself out of helping under-fire France coach Jacques Brunel at this year's Rugby World Cup.

"There were one or two approaches from an agent, that's as far we've got," O'Gara said when asked on Radio Sport New Zealand about a potential departure for French soil.

"As anyone knows I have an amount of work to do here, which is really important to me, and if there is anything, Razor (Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson) and the Crusaders would be the first to know about it."

O'Gara, who won 128 Irish caps and is a fluent French speaker after spending four seasons as a coach with Top 14 side Racing 92, added: "It's not a distraction. These are all conversations that happen. Next week it will be someone else."

The former playmaker also acknowledged he'd be more interested in being involved with Robertson's set-up should the Crusaders coach make the step-up to the All Blacks, with current coach Steve Hansen to step down after the September 20-November 2 World Cup.

French rugby federation chief Bernard Laporte, speaking in the wake of France finishing a disappointing fourth in the Six Nations, said he had not ruled out appointing a first-ever foreign coach to replace Brunel after the World Cup in Japan, with France to host the next tournament on home soil in 2023.

Laporte did not name any possible replacements for the 65-year-old Brunel, who has been in charge since 2017, but said he had "gone to meet the five best coaches in the world to offer them the job".

The federation then announced Friday it is to ask its amateur clubs whether it should employ a foreign coach in a referendum. The result of that should be known on April 12.

Among the names bandied around as potential candidates to replace Brunel are New Zealand duo Warren Gatland, who led Wales to this season's Six Nations Grand Slam, and current Ireland coach Joe Schmidt, as well as Australian Eddie Jones, presently at the helm of England.

AFP