The manner in which the Crusaders announced on social media that Irishman Ronan O'Gara has signed as backs coach has created a stir but probably more significant is the fact that the hiring of the former test player is a big departure from the franchise's traditional recruitment policy.

A Twitter message from the official Crusaders account this morning which began "Top o' the mornin' to ya! We have some exciting news to start your day, to be sure", received an immediate and mostly humorous response from people who claimed to be Irish and who said they found it clichéd and tired.

One opined it was "racist".

Whether it was racist or not is debatable but what can't be denied is the fact that the Crusaders are pleased to have the 40-year-old father of five on board and that O'Gara is the first Crusaders coach from outside New Zealand.


He is also the first appointment from outside the region since Northlander Peter Sloane took the reins back in the late 1990s, Taranaki's Colin Cooper in the early 2000s, and former Counties player Vern Cotter's involvement from 2007.

From Cotter onwards, the Crusaders have had a policy of appointing head coaches from within and while that hasn't changed, O'Gara must be considered their most high-profile assistant coach ever.

Todd Blackadder, Aaron Mauger, Mark Hammett and Dave Hewett are all former Crusaders players and have all coached at the franchise before (another former player) Scott Robertson took over for the last season once Blackadder left and surprised most pundits (including this one) by winning the competition in his first attempt.

That policy of promoting former players to high-profile coaching roles at the franchise has not gone without criticism but the Crusaders' record of eight Super Rugby titles in 22 years (the next best are the Blues and Bulls with three each) probably speaks for itself, and it was vindicated again by Robertson's success.

Now MacDonald has decided to remain in Nelson due to family reasons, opening the way for O'Gara to leave Racing 92 in Paris to join the Crusaders, a move many in the game think will fast-track his development before he returns to Ireland and a coaching gig at powerhouse Munster, a former club of his, or even a job with the national team.

O'Gara, a former first-five who played 128 tests for Ireland and two for the British & Irish Lions, played his final international in 2013 and is considered a straight shooter and will make for an intriguing double act with Robertson, the former All Blacks loose forward who is far shrewder than his often quirky interviews and breakdancing celebrations suggests.

Robertson's new voice in the Crusaders' set-up helped get the best out of an All Black-laden line-up which for whatever reason probably under-performed for much of Blackadder's tenure (apart from 2011 when they made the grand final against the Reds in Brisbane despite the Christchurch earthquakes, and 2014 when they were short-changed in the final against the Waratahs in Sydney by referee Craig Joubert).

Now they have another very new voice in O'Gara, who, according to France-based journalist Gavin Mortimer, might not find the transition easy.

"He's come out of his comfort zone, both in financial terms and in terms of his coaching to… the other side of the world to a country where rugby is a religion," Mortimer told Irish radio station RTE.

"That's going to be a big difference for him. In Paris… no one knows who he is. Rugby is just so under the radar in Paris.

"That's not going to be the case where he's going now."