Rugby: Jono Gibbes signs on with La Rochelle

Jono Gibbes.
Jono Gibbes. Photo credit: Getty

French club La Rochelle has finally secured the services of former All Black Jono Gibbes, concluding an ongoing tug-of-war with Waikato.

In a compromise of sorts, the 41-year-old will take up the role of director of rugby for the Top 14 side at the conclusion of this year's national provincial competition, where he'll coach Waikato for just one of the two originally-contracted years.

He's been granted a release from the final year of that deal and will join up with the European club in November on a four-season contract, the club's website has confirmed.

In March, Gibbes was granted an early release from his position as director of Irish side Ulster to return to New Zealand for family reasons, where he signed on as head coach of his former Waikato team.

A few months later, the eight-test international surprised both sides by approaching La Rochelle to register his interest in taking over their top job. 

"Stade Rochelais is proud and happy to formalise the recruitment of Jono Gibbes as Sports Director for the next four seasons," team officials said in a statement.

"The club made the arrival of the former head coach of the Uster [its] priority. For his part, Jono Gibbes showed great interest in the Stade Rochelais project but had to go to New Zealand for family reasons, where he had committed for a few months with Waikato."

The La Rochelle squad boasts former All Blacks Victor Vito and Tawera Kerr-Barlow as well as five members of the current touring French side.