Ronan O’Gara struck a chord Friday night with his post-game comments as he spoke logically and passionately about playing rugby the way most people want it to be played.
At a time when the game is in a feel-good phase, the former Irish fly-half cemented his growing reputation as an enlightened thinker.
Now head coach of La Rochelle, he responded to his side’s vibrant performance against Gloucester, heading for a place in the quarter-finals of the Heineken European Champions Cup.
Ronan O’Gara makes a big impression as head coach of the French La Rochelle
He struck a chord with his comments after their Champions Cup victory over Gloucester
The French side may be armed with a range of top-notch players – many of them imported from the Southern Hemisphere – but they are also liberated by a positive outlook.
They embody much of what makes the game attractive by being daring and instinctive; always try to unload and run away from all parts when the opportunity arises.
When asked to explain this bold approach, O’Gara revealed the importance of his stay in New Zealand. “I think it’s a mindset,” he said BT Sport‘There’s a huge ruck focus in the Northern Hemisphere, and if you go to the Crusaders, the CBA is – keep the ball alive – and that’s something I’m interested in myself.
‘We try to get speed on the ball and keep the ball alive. There is a risk to that, but you have to weigh the risk and the reward. At the ball, there is a great emphasis on identifying space. ‘
How refreshing to hear that someone well versed in the more earthly aspects of the game emphasizes the benefits of going broke in these parts.
But how sad it was to realize that he had to travel to the other side of the world for his own enlightenment.
If that’s what it takes, once the Covid crisis is over, young British and Irish coaches should be sent out to immerse themselves in Kiwi rugby, to broaden horizons.
O’Gara forms a formidable coaching resume and other teams will be interested in him
O’Gara is building a great coaching resume that is sure to lead him back to Munster or the Irish set-up and eventually to a coaching role with the Lions, and others should follow his path of discovery.
Northern Hemisphere coaches should consider the risk-reward equation that O’Gara outlines as a means of extending the current trend toward positivity in possession.
Brian Ashton was the great visionary figure of English rugby for many years and the gist of his message was that players should seek space rather than contact.
O’Gara is now repeating that message, so here’s a blueprint for KBA with popular appeal.
Lions tour sounds don’t promise much
The last noises about the Lions tour do not inspire much confidence.
Jason Leonard, the chairman of the Lions, said they ‘hoped’ British and Irish supporters would be allowed to make the trip to South Africa, but sadly this seems wishful thinking amid the ongoing fear of transferring a more powerful Covid variant.
In reality, the likely scenario is that the Lions will be reluctantly forced to accept a strict ‘bubble’ arrangement that isn’t quite a tour in the truest sense.
At best, some local fans could be there, but that should suffice in the unprecedented circumstances.
It is said there is hope that British and Irish supporters will be acquitted for the Lions tour
Champions Cup concept is very popular
The concept of the Champions Cup round of 16 was well received – so much so that the organizers simply had to scrap the bloated pool phase and make it a knockout tournament.
Qualifying for Europe should be a prize for continued excellence over the previous season, so make it the holders and the top five finishers of each league – Premiership, Top 14 and Pro 14/16 (or whatever it’s going to be called).
Of course that won’t happen, as clubs all crave the financial stability of guaranteed matches, but it would create a gripping event. Failing that, the integration of South African teams may be positive.
There will be some exciting quarter-finals this weekend, but there is too much publicity. The continent’s upper elite needs to be shaken up as the teams from Wales, Italy and Scotland all too often do little more than make up for the numbers.
Eddie Jones has been busy since the Six Nations disappointment
Eddie Jones is not moping as he waits for the RFU to complete their Six Nations inquiries. The England coach covered a lot of kilometers this weekend and attended four European matches.
On Friday he was in Gloucester, where rugby director George Skivington suggested he keep an eye on Ruan Ackermann.
Eddie Jones has been busy attending games since England’s failure in this year’s Six Nations
The former South African ‘A’ player has had quite an impact in West Country, but he can’t match Sam Simmonds’ talent, so it would be a joke if Ackermann were called up for the Chief.
Jones was in Exeter on Saturday night after a flight from Coventry, where he saw Paolo Odogwu deliver a striking riposte after not being used by England during the Six Nations.
The Wasp Wing scored one try, almost added another in fine style and also made an excellent contribution to the defense. If he can hold his own against Clermont, he can hold his own in international rugby.
Harlequins are not happy with Mike Brown’s truth
Harlequins are unhappy, the true story of Mike Brown’s exit at the end of the season has been uncovered in an interview with SportsmailThe London club wanted to present a sanitized version of the events, but their tough fullback was determined to have his say.
Quins should be less concerned about window display and more concerned with how they behave properly.
Full-back Mike Brown opened up on his exit at Harlequins in an exclusive Sportsmail interview
Brown spoke of a lack of loyalty and that has become a recurring lament among players. Rugby is a business, but it can still have a heart and a soul.
At the very least, Brown owed more courtesy than a four-minute meeting. Too late, Quins made an unsuccessful attempt to keep him.
As he has been playing lately, they will have realized he was worth another year and he could have moved on to a coaching or mentoring role, but now a favorite son has been lost. Brown will be a passionate man for Newcastle.