Former Ireland flyhalf Ronan O'Gara. Photo: REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

WELLINGTON, New Zealand - Former Ireland flyhalf Ronan O'Gara has joined the Christchurch-based Crusaders as a backline coach, becoming the first coach from outside New Zealand to be recruited by the eight-time Super Rugby champions.

O'Gara, who played 128 tests for Ireland and toured three times with the British and Irish Lions, has been released from his contract with Paris-based Racing 92 to join the Crusaders as they attempt to defend the Super Rugby title in the 2018 season. He takes over as backline coach from former All Blacks fullback Leon MacDonald.

“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 BNZ Crusaders coaching group and to work with the outstanding group of players we have,” O’Gara told the Crusaders website. 

“I have a lot of respect for Scott Robertson, having played against him in two All Blacks vs 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." 

AP

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