Ronan O’Gara is at the centre of a TOP14 battle for his services next season between La Rochelle and former club Racing 92.
The former Munster and Ireland fly-half, currently in his second season as an assistant coach to Scott Robertson at Super Rugby champions Crusaders in Christchurch, has been linked in the French media with a role in Jono Gibbes’s coaching set-up at La Rochelle, whose current backs coach Xavier Garbajosa will leave at the end of this season.
Racing want O’Gara, meanwhile, to replace backs coach Laurent Labit, who will be leaving the Parisian club to join Fabien Galthie’s new France coaching ticket. The Corkman worked with both Labit and his joint head coach Laurent Travers as Racing’s defence coach following the end of his playing career in 2013.
Travers is set to become director of rugby at Racing when Labit departs and while he confirmed both O’Gara and Gonzalo Quesada, also a former Racing assistant, were under consideration to rejoin the staff, he also suggested that the Irish legend may already have committed his future elsewhere.
“For the moment, nothing is concrete yet but it's true that they are part of the short-list,” Travers told news agency AFP.
“Ronan, I worked with him at Racing recently and I get on very well with him. The challenge would have interested him but unfortunately he told me we arrived too late because he had already given his word to another club. Out of respect, I did not ask him which one.
“Regarding Gonzalo, he knows the club and we have traded several times. I will not deny that there are contacts.
“What I can say is that next season, in addition to me, we will have a forward coach, a three-quarter coach who will also be responsible for the attack and the strategy with me, and a coach of the defence. The staff will not be bloated but everyone will have a well-defined mission.”