Ireland and Munster rugby legend Ronan O’Gara turns 40 today, and to celebrate the big milestone for the man from Cork let’s look back at five memorable moments from his illustrious career.
Amassing 128 caps for Ireland and a further 240 for Munster, O’Gara is by far and away the best out-half the country has ever produced. With over 3500 points to his name and multiple points records across domestic, European and international competitions, he is the benchmark for all that follow.
Not the biggest or strongest man on the pitch, O’Gara employed a superior rugby brain and a Jack Russell-like tenacity. Never one to shy away from a tackle, he put his body on the line time and again and quickly became a leader within the Munster and Ireland camps.
Selected for three British and Irish Lions tours, O’Gara would have seen far more than his two Lions test caps if it were not for his English counterpart and fellow game-changer Jonny Wilkinson.
Nevertheless, in a professional career that spanned 17 years, O’Gara lifted nine trophies with Munster, including two Heineken Cups. For Ireland he celebrated four triple crowns and one Six Nations title, the grand slam year of 2009.
Looking back over such an amazing career it is difficult to boil it down to just five memorable moments. Therefore, the choices below merely capture the tenacity of the man, his skill set and talent, plus his undying love for the game.
So, in no particular order…
5. Drop Goal For The Grand Slam
While he has scored many clutch drop-goals in his time, none were more memorable than his grand slam-winning kick in Cardiff in the dying minutes of a bruising encounter with Wales.
Video Credit: mountnugent1949
4. Cross-Field Kick To Shane Horgan At Croke Park To Hockey England In 2007
In a historic game, playing the old enemy within the bastion of Irishness, Croke Park, Ireland put England to the sword with a thundering 43-13 victory. Among the many highlights was this sublime cross-field kick by the enigmatic No. 10.
Video Credit: Gavin Costello
3. Munster Try Against Leinster In The 2006 Heineken Cup
En route to Munster’s first European Cup title, O’Gara scored against their biggest domestic rivals in Dublin. The sheer joy and elation on his face says all that is needed about the love O’Gara has for the game.
Video Credit: CR’s Video Vaults
2. Getting Punched By Duncan McRae on 2001 Lions tour of Australia
Midway through the second half of the Lions match with New South Wales, the red mist descended on McRae and he unloaded a brutal eleven punches on O’Gara, sending him to the medic’s table for treatment. McRae got an early shower for his disgusting loss of control.
Video Credit: RugbyFightsReturn
1. Tit-For-Tat Drop-Goals With Stephen Jones In The 2003 Six Nations
In a true case of ‘anything you can do, I can do better’, O’Gara and Wales counterpart Stephen Jones put on a drop-goal masterclass back in 2003. Jones became the Welsh hero when he steered a monster 35-metre attempt between the posts, only for O’Gara to go one better from just inside the ten-metre line and seal a 25-24 victory for Ireland.
Video Credit: EllliotJackRussel1
Incredible stuff. Happy birthday, ROG.
Gary Brennan, Pundit Arena
On this week’s Oval Office Podcast, Jacques Burger talks about his battle with depression, Benetton Treviso’s Ian McKinley reviews Italy’s performance against England and Daniel Killick of The Attacking Scrum tells us what’s gone wrong with Wales.