Ronan O’Gara strongly believes that beginning his coaching career with Munster would have been the wrong move for him.
The former Ireland fly-half spent 16 years with Munster, but once his playing career was finished, O’Gara joined Racing 92 in the French Top 14 as an assistant coach.
O’Gara is now the head coach of La Rochelle, and told The Telegraph that he is glad that he decided to leave his home comforts at Munster to kick off his coaching career.
✈️ Nos joueurs s’envolent aujourd’hui pour Londres ! Un seul objectif en tête ??
Visionnez la vidéo d’avant-match avec Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Greg Alldritt, Ronan O’Gara et Kevin Gourdon
— Stade Rochelais (@staderochelais) May 20, 2021
‘If you want to be a real coach it’s not a great starting point.’
“It would have been an absolute disaster to have gone into Munster. We are all influenced by our environment and institutionalised at certain stages,” O’Gara explained.
“I played with a lot of really good players who became very good friends. But if you want to be a real coach, it’s not great as a starting point to be going in and having conversations with guys that you’ve already spent 10 years with as a player.”
The Irishman has experienced great success in his coaching career so far, having helped Racing 92 to the Top 14 title in 2016, before playing a role in the Crusaders’ two Super Rugby titles in 2018 and 2019.
O’Gara has proven to be a successful head coach as well since he joined La Rochelle back in 2019, having led the club to a first-ever Heineken Champions Cup final.
Ronan O’Gara’s ambitions to coach Ireland.
While O’Gara has no intentions of leaving the French side anytime soon, having recently signed a contract extension that will keep him in La Rochelle until 2024, the former Munster man does hope to one day coach Ireland.
“Winning a World Cup with your country. That’s what you want to do. But the reality is you may have to do another nation before you get the Irish job because the Ireland job is a big, big job,” O’Gara said.
“But that doesn’t frighten me one bit. I have been pretty consistent in my steps and I feel I can add stuff to certain teams, so in that regard it wouldn’t be from a lack of belief and confidence for taking on the job.
“Far from it. It would be hugely exciting and a massive privilege.”
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Who are you backing to make the difference in the Twickenham showstopper? ? pic.twitter.com/hzMNNXLtFo
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) May 21, 2021
Before O’Gara’s thoughts can drift to coaching Ireland, he has the small matter of a Champions Cup final with La Rochelle this Saturday against Toulouse.
The weight of history is against O’Gara and his team, who will take on the four-time European champions at Twickenham Stadium, but La Rochelle will take plenty of confidence from their convincing win against Leinster a few weeks ago.