Jono Gibbes' homecoming will be a short one.

After signing a two year contract to coach Waikato in the Mitre 10 Cup, the former All Black has signed on as Director of Rugby for French club La Rochelle.

The deal, which starts in November, will see the eight-match All Black's stint at the helm of his home region cut in half.

The news was confirmed by La Rochelle, with club officials saying in a statement: "Stade Rochelais is proud and happy to formalise the recruitment of Jono Gibbes as Sports Director for the next four seasons.


"The club made the arrival of the former head coach of the Ulster [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."

Gibbes, 41, quit his post as Ulster's Director of Rugby to return to coach Waikato for family reasons. He was granted a release by the Northern Ireland club on compassionate grounds in March.

However, in May, Gibbes went to La Rochelle to talk to the club about taking over there with Patrice Callazo moving on to Toulon next season.

Waikato CEO Blair Foote said: "Naturally we regret the loss of Jono to Stade Rochelais. Both organisations recognise the calibre of his coaching skills and his unique ability to inspire players. Still, we are grateful Jono – who calls the Waikato home - has committed to seeing the union through the 2018 Mitre 10 Cup and to helping us build towards regaining our rightful position in the Premiership

"We are confident the link Jono cements with La Rochelle will build on these efforts and, through rugby, continue to make Waikato stronger."