Ronan O’Gara still discovering his best coaching talents
Former Ireland outhalf is now La Rochelle head coach after spell with Crusaders
Ronan O’Gara is returning to the Top 14. Photo: Billy Stickland/Inpho
Embarking upon his seventh season as a coach, Ronan O’Gara is still on a voyage of discovery, both in the variety of jobs he has undertaken and in seeking what role or roles suits him best.
After two highly successful years with the high achieving Crusaders, whose back-to-back Super Rugby titles took their unrivaled haul to 10 overall, Ireland’s second-most capped player and all-time record points gatherer had admitted he had several offers before returning to the Top 14 as La Rochelle head coach.
“I think that’s what happens a lot of coaches when they go to the Crusaders – a lot of players as well – they have options,” says O’Gara who was speaking as an ambassador for Energia. “I had a lot of options but I don’t know what side of the ball I prefer, attack or defence, so I’m going to coach both, or try to coach both, at La Rochelle. That will speed up (the process of) making it clear in my mind which I prefer coaching, with a global vision in mind too.
“Obviously it’s a really tight, small coaching ticket at the minute. There’s Jono (Gibbes), who is director of rugby, then there’s me, a forwards’ coach and a throwing coach. I think at club level you can do it, but obviously not to the detail that you’d like to do it at, but at least there’s no mixed messages. It’ll be trying to get walking first, and then add on, add on, add on.”
O’Gara is returning to the Top14 after spending over four seasons there as an assistant coach at Racing, where his role morphed from kicking and skills into defence coach.
The defensive system which extended Leinster to a 15-12 tryless win in the Champions Cup final in Bilbao two seasons ago was largely credited to him, even though by then he had moved on to the Crusaders, where he was attack coach.
“The Top 14 is a championship of it’s own. You need a lot of French players in your squad because of the regulations. My goal, my challenge is to get the best out of them.
“Some of them are young, some of them are not so young and depending on what habits they have, you have to make their habits better to make them better rugby players. That’s what I’m looking forward to working with.”