"Ronan O'Gara, the antihero": portrait of the Irish manager of La Rochelle

“Ronan O’Gara, the antihero”: portrait of the Irish manager of La Rochelle

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Ronan O’Gara – Manager of La Rochelle Ronan O’Gara’s personality is not unanimous in French rugby and as far as we know, he doesn’t care. You can’t please everyone, right?

The French novel by Ronan O’Gara, it is the attack coach of the XV of France Laurent Labit who best summarizes the prologue: “When with Laurent (Travers) we gave our contract to Racing in 2013, Gonzalo Quesada still had a year on his contract and he had to stay working with us, which we consider very favourably. Then “Gonza” had a chance, he sat up. The Stade Français and Ronan’s candidacy landed on our desk.” Y ? “I found it interesting to have a third man with us, someone to shake our habits of ten years; someone who challenges us, in fact. Very quickly, he told us that he didn’t want to be confined to kicking games. It was something that bothered him a lot, for So he was entrusted with the defense of the team and he stood out in this position, in the creation of the systems, he was very good and in a few months he made Racing one of the best defenses in France and Europe.”

O’Gara? It is because he has experienced the suffering that he is doing everything he can today to preserve the clubs he coaches. And before becoming the playmaker of the most dominant team in the European Cup, Ronan O’Gara (45) experienced the terrible bite of defeat, the burn on his chest caused by the cardboard medals, the invisible scar that mark for life whom history has chosen to forget. “I, he told us one day, I am in the sport to win and I know the sacrifices that entails. After losing my first two finals with Munster (2000 and 2002), I had to wait six years before winning the European Cup. With us we say that it is not the two hours of training that count, but the next twenty-two… This implies, for the players, permanent sacrifices. Did you do an additional video shoot? Have you been to see the physical therapists to get a massage? Have you stretched enough? This individual work is essential.” To transform the prey into the hunter, ROG never gives its players the slightest respite and, if it is less fragile in front of them than when it debuted as a coach in Racing (2013), it remains so demanding that its management and the linguistic shortcuts it sometimes he can afford they can be patently painful, for the least solid of his soldiers.

Clearly ? Word of O’Gara, there are those who love it and those who hate it. Brice Dulin, who was revived at the highest level by the Irish manager, is certainly in the former category: “Ronan knows how to poke me to get the best of me and we both know how to lock ourselves in an office to pop the abscess when the need arises. It’s healthy, I like it.” And then there are those, like Jérémy Sinzelle or Jules Plisson, who sometimes had problems (a slight understatement…) with the directness of the sporting boss of La Rochelle. As such, is it a mood incompatibility with ROG that will soon push the thirty-year-old Sinzelle to join the Var? Who knows…

Laurent Labit: “It’s less rigid than when it started”

In young coach Ronan O’Gara there is therefore a “Fabien Galthié” side and, according to some of his players, his technical dominance over the other Top 14 coaches is also undermined by a less painful relationship with the other. . Is “ROG” aware of this? One could swear, so much so that the men accompanying him today in La Rochelle (Donnacha Ryan, Gurthrö Steenkamp…) are rounder in character, more flexible than he is. About his manager, Brice Dulin adds: “With Ronan there is no privilege. That’s why the players adhere. In Racing, he rotted everyone in the same way and that helped us to be better, I think. With Dan Carter, he didn’t use the word ‘fuck’ that he gave him. She likes him a lot but sometimes I would say to him: “The player that you are shouldn’t miss tackling, Dan! Get back to work!” I repeat: it is healthy and keeps us going.” So much so that it is said that the O’Gara method, which obviously does not suit the most sensitive, is a strong argument when the La Rochelle leaders try to sign a player.

The future Rochelais Teddy Thomas, for example, told us a few months ago: “Ronan made me progress a lot even though he was pulling my hair out with me at the start… In the Colombes stands, I sometimes heard him shout: “Teddy! Damn!” He was right. In defense, my positions created imbalances. On the O’Gara method, Labit continues: “Like all very technically advanced people, he sometimes had a hard time passing on his knowledge. At Racing he did not interview the players, he did not participate in meetings… In fact, it took him a long time to understand how a club coach should talk to the players because he grew up in Munster, that is, in the ecosystem of a national team. In a French club, you have 45 players of different levels, some of them will make you two or three games in the season, but you have to have them, you have to be able to count on them. He didn’t understand that we didn’t have 45 top level players and we had problems with those people. But a lot has changed, in that. less rigid than when it started.

On the cold side with the Racingmen

Obviously, Ronan O’Gara never changed. Not everyone likes him, he is hated by most of the Top 14 coaches (Ugo Mola and Christophe Urios say so openly…) and he has even learned to play with him: if Stade La Rochelle is more aggressive than ‘he wasn’t in their communication, if the Yellow and Black stand out today from the image of Clermont as a “good loser” that could stick to their skin in the face of a new failure in the final stages, it is that ROG has understood that the pre-game and his Killer little phrases can also win the first few battles. Has he, furthermore, gone too far lately, attacking Racing in a start of genuine bad faith, guilty in his eyes of discrediting the European Cup by moving the last semi-final to Ch’Nord and in front of 15,000 boys? Still, this week, none of the three Racingmen we contacted wanted to talk about the good old Ronan, suggesting that between Sky, White and ROG, there’s fry at stake. Beep, beep, beep…

Brice DULIN, rear of La Rochelle: “With Ronan there is no privilege. That’s why the players adhere. In Racing it rotted everyone equally and that helped us to be better, I think.

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