Every now and again, Ronan O'Gara will dazzle us all with a fascinating career move. The assumption that he was exiled in Europe to learn his craft before returning to Munster, but today, the apprenticeship has taken a detour.
It was confirmed today that he has been released from his contract with Racing 92 to move to the Canterbury Crusaders in Super Rugby. O'Gara will operate as the club's backs coach, where he will be charged with imparting wisdom to the likes of Israel Dagg and Ryan Crotty in the Corner. O'Gara will assume the role next January.
O'Gara himself said that the opportunity was "enticing".
New Zealand sets the bar in world rugby, and Super Rugby is recognised as one of the toughest international rugby tournaments. So to coach in New Zealand – for the current Super Rugby champions – is an enticing prospect for any coach. I cannot wait to join Scott Robertson, Brad Mooar and Jason Ryan in the Crusaders coaching group and to work with the outstanding group of players we have.
I have a lot of respect for Scott Robertson, having played against him in two All Blacks v 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.
Crusaders' chief executive Hamish Riach hailed O'Gara upon confirmation of his appointment:
Ronan O'Gara is one of rugby's international superstars. He was a brilliant player and has gone on to prove himself as an outstanding coach with Racing 92 in Paris. The international experience and exceptional skillset that Ronan can bring to this team is fantastic, and we know that Crusaders fans will be excited to have someone of his calibre joining our coaching group as we seek to defend the Super Rugby title in 2018.
Richie Mo'unga, a rising star in New Zealand rugby, says he is excited by the prospect of working with ROG.
He was one of the best in the world when he was around. If the rumours are true it would be pretty cool.
He would be very knowledgeable from a 10's perspective. Leon [MacDonald, the former backs coach] was a huge help for me this year. He didn't play 10 but he was an outside specialist. When he announced he wasn't coming back I was a bit gutted but I'm excited for whoever gets the opportunity and if it's him it would be awesome. I've never met him or anything but it would be cool.
The Kiwi media have described O'Gara as an "Ireland great", with the NZ Herald describing him as a "natural fit" for the role, while also outlining just how rare such an appointment is within New Zealand rugby: O'Gara will be the only foreign coach in the New Zealand Super Rugby set up, other than Welshman Alistair Rogers at the Blues.
Crusaders, meanwhile, announced the news that O'Gara would be joining by deploying a deeply painful bit of diddly' Irish jargon.
— Crusaders (@crusadersrugby) November 22, 2017