Ronan O’Gara has admitted he wants to coach Ireland after guiding French side La Rochelle to back-to-back Heineken Champions Cup triumphs.
Former Ireland fly-half O’Gara’s La Rochelle defeated Leinster in the final for the second successive season, fighting back from 17-0 down for a thrilling 27-26 win at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.
O’Gara told the BBC’s Rugby Union Weekly podcast: “Yes, of course, I want to coach Ireland as well but you have got to earn that right.”
The 46-year-old, appointed by La Rochelle in June 2019 after coaching spells at Racing 92 and New Zealand side Crusaders, said the victory was one of the highlights of his career as both player and coach.
“Because it is the freshest it is always the best, isn’t it?” said O’Gara, who as a player won the Champions Cup twice with Munster, helped Ireland win the Six Nations Grand Slam and went on three British and Irish Lions tours.
“I’m just proud of the character of the team, 17-0 down and away from home, they could have easily found a way to find an excuse but these boys have character and character is important in sport.
“We love it. We care a lot for each other. We don’t talk about that but we act and there is no bigger proof in the pudding than back-to-back (Champions Cup wins).
“We are probably beginning to be seen as a special team and I think the boys deserve to be there.”
O’Gara, Ireland’s record points scorer and second-most capped player with 128 appearances, spared a thought for compatiots Leinster, who have lost in three of the last five Champions Cup finals after winning the title in 2018.
“Sport is ruthless,” O’Gara added. “I must admit that as a head coach or leader of this group, you feel for Leinster management and the players, it is horrible. One bus goes happy and the other bus is devastated.”