O’Gara targets Irish job after La Rochelle triumph-News

O’Gara has now won four Champions Cups as a player and coach

Ronan O’Gara has said he wants to coach in Ireland after leading La Rochelle to a second successive Heineken Champions Cup win.

The French team made an impressive comeback beat Leinster 27-26 after trailing 17-0 in the Dublin final.

“Yes, yes, I want to coach Ireland again, but you have to do well,” he said.

“Of course it will.” [stand him in good stead if he gets the Ireland job]. You’re always better.”

“You’ve got to be good or you’re missing a trick,” O’Gara told the Rugby Union Weekly podcast.

O’Gara added that the win was a fond memory of his time at Lansdowne Road where he was at his best as an Irish player.

“It’s brilliant, very good,” he added.

“It’s a fantastic place. The lads emptied the tank, it didn’t look good for most of the game, but we came back in the last minute.

“To be nine points down was a big bonus for us, although it seems counterintuitive, but we were very happy with that.

“We knew we had them in the maul, we didn’t get enough pay from that but we got it in the end. It’s been a special day for us.”

La Rochelle celebrated their second Champions Cup win
La Rochelle celebrated their second Champions Cup win

As Ireland’s second most capped player and top scorer in the country, having won the Triple Crowns and the Grand Slam in 2009, O’Gara was delighted at the Dublin stadium where La Rochelle successfully defended the trophy they won last year by beating Leinster. 24-21 in a thrilling final.

Reflecting on his team’s performance, the half-back was not shy about answering when asked where this victory stood in his game – while also finding words of consolation for his opponents.

“Because the newest is always the best, right?” he said.

“I’m proud of the character of this team, 17-0 down and away from home, they could have found a way to find an excuse but these guys have character and character is important in the game.

“We love each other. We care deeply about each other. We don’t talk about it but we do and there’s no greater proof in the pudding than going back and forth. [European wins]. Maybe we are starting to be seen as a special team and I think these guys deserve to be there. ”

He added: “Sports are merciless. I have to admit that as a head coach or a manager of this team, you listen to the management of Leinster and the players, it’s terrible. One bus goes happily and the other bus breaks down.”

On the French side, war broke out

Ross Byrne
Leinster have now lost three finals since winning their fourth title in 2018

Leinster opened up a 17-0 lead with three tries in 12 minutes in an exciting first half, but La Rochelle fought back to go into the break 23-14 down.

A great fightback was made by Georges-Henri Colombe’s late try which sealed the win and denied Leinster a fifth European win.

However, when asked about his role in motivating the team, former Munster captain O’Gara instead praised the form of his players.

“I know where I’m coming from, the boys know where I’m coming from,” he continued.

“I’m very proud to be from Cork, it means a lot to me, a lot of players have come out of Cork and they inspire me.

“When you mix that with the best players from France, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Samoa – we have players from all over the world who I’d like to think are at home.

“I feel really good. We restore our environment, we have fun. Rugby is supposed to be fun and I think you saw that it was the 23rd team that didn’t drop weapons and that means a lot to me.”

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