Ronan O’Gara will leave Racing 92 at the end of December, the French side have confirmed.
The former Munster star take up a coaching role at Canterbury Crusaders in New Zealand from January 1.
The move follows weeks of speculation that the reigning Super Rugby champions had offered an initial two-year contract for him to become assistant head coach to Scott Robertson.
In a statement released this morning, Racing confirmed that despite being under contract until 2019, the club “did not want to deprive one of its faithful servants of a great opportunity”, and that the 40-year-old would be released in December.
A move to New Zealand’s south island would clearly bring about some upheaval for O’Gara’s family, his wife Jessica and their five children, but in a recent Irish Examiner column, he expressed the view that he still has a significant amount of learning to do as coach in different parts of the world before he is ready to be considered for a No 1 coaching role – or a return to Ireland.
The Christchurch-based Crusaders have won a record eight Super rugby titles and are regarded as the premier club team in the world game.