For six years, the New Zealander was a key part of the Leinster back-room team during a spell where they won three European Cups, a Challenge Cup and three league titles, but after his initial year as assistant to Franck Azema at Clermont, the pair have now signed up for a further three years.
“I’m very happy to be able to continue our collaboration for such a period [three years], where we’ll have the chance to further build our relationship and help the team towards the highest level possible,” said Gibbes yesterday.
“It’s also a family decision because we really like the Auvergne; the personal side of things is exceptional, as well as the sporting side. For me, it’s been a really positive experience and I’m really happy to continue with it.”
The loss of forwards coach Gibbes was pronounced this season in Leinster’s rucking game, which was a source of pride for the former All Black, and it appears that the opportunity to return to Dublin has come too early.
Before he left Leinster last year, the 38-year-old admitted that taking over Leinster was a future ambition of his. “Well, I’m an Irish citizen now. Absolutely, I think one of the things I said to Guy (Easterby, Leinster manager) about why Clermont is such a good opportunity is because I can go away, get more experience, get a different perspective, work at a different club, work in a different competition,” Gibbes told Emerald Rugby magazine.
“I think that grows you and I think I’d be in a position to be in line to be considered for a head coaching job back here in the future.”
The news regarding Gibbes comes less than a week after former Australia and Canterbury Crusaders coach Robbie Deans removed himself from the running after he was established as an early favourite by the bookmakers. Deans’ successor for the Australian job Ewen McKenzie is now the short-odds favourite at 6/4 and has been out of work since leaving the Wallabies role last year, however, earlier this week, Leinster chief executive Mick Dawson said the province would not be rushed into an appointment. After Matt O’Connor’s exit last month Leo Cullen and academy manager Girvan Dempsey are temporarily overseeing operations at Leinster’s UCD base.
Meanwhile, after Jack O’Donoghue and Darren Sweetnam received senior contracts for next season, Munster have confirmed the addition of seven new players to the Greencore Munster Rugby academy.
While Ryan Murphy, Max Abbot and Jamie Glynn have all been released from the academy, Cork Con out-half Tomás Quinlan — who kicked a winning penalty against Argentina in the U20 World Cup — headlines the new recruits. Quinlan is joined by Liam O’Connor, Conor Oliver, Ned Hodson, JP Phelan, Ben Kilkenny and Steven McMahon as part of the 22-man academy squad. In addition to the graduation of O’Donoghue and Sweetnam, Munster have also added Dolphin prop Peter McCabe to their signings for next season, which include Tomás O’Leary, Jordan Coughlan and Francis Saili.
The departures of JJ Hanrahan, Paddy Butler, Alan Cotter, Sean Dougall, Ivan Dineen, Martin Kelly, Johne Murphy, Barry O’Mahony and Andrew Smith were also confirmed by the province.