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Ronan O’Gara ‘wouldn’t swap’ Irish provinical success for Wales’ international success

O'Gara

Ronan O’Gara has said that he “wouldn’t swap” the Irish provinces’ success with the success of the Wales national team.

Wales were again crowned as Six Nations champions on Friday night, as Scotland’s win against France in Paris ensured that the French would not pip the Welsh to the title.

Despite being largely written off before the tournament began, Wales won their second Six Nations title in three years and were ultimately the only team that managed to win four of their five games.

For a nation with a population of just over three million, Wales have had extraordinary success on the international stage in rugby.

Wales have won six Six Nations titles since 2005, more than any other team in that period of time, with four of those championship victories coming with a Grand Slam.

The Welsh have also impressed at the Rugby World Cup in recent years, making the semi-finals in both 2011 and 2019.

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The struggles of the Welsh regions

Their international record has been superior to that of Ireland’s, who have won four Six Nations titles since 2005 and have never gotten past the quarter-finals at the Rugby World Cup.

Despite Wales’ strong performances on the national stage, the four Welsh regions – Cardiff Blues, Scarlets, Ospreys and Dragons – have failed to regularly impress in European club rugby.

No Welsh side has ever won the Heineken/Champions Cup and while the Scarlets did win the Pro12 in 2017, the regions have been regularly dominated by the Irish provinces since their inception in 2003.

Ireland’s four provinces have experienced extraordinary success at club level, winning a combined total of seven Heineken/Champions Cups while sharing 12 league titles between them.

‘Their boys play everything for the red jersey’

Former Munster and Ireland player Ronan O’Gara was speaking on Virgin Media after Scotland’s win against France and discussed the differences in the two countries attitudes’ towards club rugby and international rugby.

“I wouldn’t swap being an Irish player with the success of the provinces [for being a Welsh player] with the success of the national team,” O’Gara commented.

“Obviously Wales are more successful at national level but it’s a decent discussion to be had going forward. Their boys play everything for the red jersey.

“I think there’s an awful lot goodness in Irish rugby in the fact with what you can do at provincial level but also at test level.”

While Irish fans may have looked on in envy as Wales won yet another Six Nations title last night, Leinster and Munster fans can at least divert their attention to today’s Guinness Pro14 final at the RDS Arena.

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