Ronan O’Gara recalls being disappointed to be named Lions captain

Ronan O'Gara Lions

Ronan O’Gara has recalled the time he was asked to captain the British and Irish Lions for a midweek game before the second test against the Springboks in 2009.

Former Ireland fly-half O’Gara was on the bench for the Lions’ first test against South Africa in 2009, and was not called upon by head coach Ian McGeechan to replace starting number 10 Stephen Jones during the narrow loss.

O’Gara was speaking to Sky Sports about being bestowed the Lions captaincy for the midweek match, and admitted he thought McGeechan and assistant coach Warren Gatland were about to tell him he would start the second test.

‘It’s the one captaincy you do not want.’

“I’ve got a good story actually about Geech and Gats. On the Monday of the [second] test week, I got called aside. It was nip-and-tuck, well in my head I thought I may be starting,” O’Gara explained.

“I got called over by the two boys and they said ‘I’ve got some brilliant news for you,’ and I was there ‘Oh yes, here we go, fantastic.’ The one thing you do not want to hear is ‘You’re going to be captain of the team Wednesday night!'”

“I was kind of going, ‘Ah…okay, that’s …’ That’s what they call experience! It’s the one captaincy you do not want, the midweek team on the Wednesday before the [second] test! I learnt one or two tricks that week, so.”

Ronan O’Gara’s Lions captaincy.

O’Gara skippered the Lions against the Emerging Springboks on the Wednesday before the second test, which ended in a 13-13 draw thanks to a late try from South African winger Danwel Demas.

The Irishman did actually make an appearance for the Lions off the bench in the second test against the Springboks, which South African won in dramatic fashion to clinch the series.

While O’Gara never did start for the Lions in a test match, captaining the touring side in a midweek match is a great honour nonetheless, even if it didn’t come at the ideal time for the Munster fly-half.

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