Ronan O’Gara has short-circuited speculation regarding a coaching return to the northern hemisphere by agreeing a one-year extension to his contract with the Canterbury Crusaders in New Zealand.
O’Gara confirmed to Examiner Sport last night that he has signed a deal to remain on the coaching staff at the Crusaders for the 2019 Super Rugby season.
The defending champions lead the Super Rugby standings, having won 10 games in a row to boost their record to 12-2 this year with three games left in the regular season, two of them at home.
O’Gara is in his sixth season on the coaching ladder but doesn’t feel pressure to jump into a head coaching position in Europe. He said last night that the coaching environment and project he is working in is more important than being a head coach at the moment.
“The Crusaders is a really good place to be. The champions of Super Rugby are not a stepping stone club,” he pointed out.
“The Crusaders players come in to learn and improve every day, I have a really good connection with them and the coaching staff under Scott Robertson, and they are fundamental elements of job satisfaction.”
He added: “The days of getting experience and ‘learning the trade’ are over in some regards for me. It’s about being involved with the right project now and the Crusaders is as good as anything in world rugby in that regard.
“What I’ve seen here underlines that coaching is primarily about getting the very best out of the players, respecting them and fostering relationships with them. That’s the key.
“Every single one of them wants to get better. That isn’t always the case in professional sport. These lads are anything but box-tickers.“
O’Gara has been linked with several club and international coaching roles following a productive five years with Racing 92 in Paris. The one-year contract extension, which will be announced today formally by the Crusaders, ties him to the Canterbury franchise until August 2019.