Ronan O’Gara has explained why he chose to sign a contract extension with La Rochelle rather than trying to source work as a coach in Ireland.
O’Gara has been involved in the coaching set up with New Zealand Super Rugby side the Crusaders and French Top 14 sides Racing 92 and La Rochelle, but has so far shown no intent to return to Ireland in a coaching capacity.
The former Ireland and Munster fly-half was speaking to Virgin Media about his decision to sign on with La Rochelle until 2024, while revealing that he had opportunities elsewhere.
“My wife reminded me that it was probably a good thing that Johnny doesn’t play.
“We’ve a lot of time for Johnny and he becomes very good in semi-finals and finals she said!”
— Virgin Media Sport (@VMSportIE) April 30, 2021
“I enjoy plenty of aspects in La Rochelle, there are plenty of challenges in the club as well. There were other opportunities to go elsewhere, but I had another year left on my contract as well,” O’Gara explained.
“I’m old school in that regard. I think it’s important if you sign a contract and give your word that you commit to that.”
When asked if any of those opportunities came from any team in Ireland, O’Gara revealed that they had not.
“No, no, no [they weren’t from Ireland]. To be fair to Munster, I have chatted to a few members in the organisation. It’s a club I have huge time for obviously, but where I’m looking at it from the outside it looks very different.
“I think it’s important for me that I get as much experience and as much enjoyment out of the game, so that wasn’t an option to go to an Irish team.”
‘There are no hard feelings either way.’
While many fans and pundits alike have been clamouring for O’Gara to return to Ireland as a coach due to his success with La Rochelle, the former Munster man explained that he is currently not interested in signing on with any Irish sides.
O’Gara explained that he is still in the “infancy” of implementing what he wants to do as a head coach, and felt that remaining with La Rochelle was the best option for him.
“That works both ways. I didn’t show any interest either so we can’t say that approaches weren’t made. I have a good relationship with both Andy Farrell, Johann van Graan and people in Munster. There are no hard feelings either way,” O’Gara commented.
“I have transitioned and I am finished my learning stage as a coach, now I’m implementing what I want to do. I’m only in the infancy of that stage and I enjoy it, it’s very exciting where I am now.
“In terms of the decision to sign on [at La Rochelle], it just made a lot of sense.”