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31st Jan 2024

Ronan O’Gara quick to address any talk of him joining Andy Farrell’s Lions set-up

Patrick McCarry


“It’s something that you have to completely rephrase.”

Ronan O’Gara took some time out, earlier this year, to record a version of his infamous Cork/French team-talks, but his focus is straight back on life with La Rochelle.

The reigning European champs are experiencing a middling 2023/24, so far, but have reached the Round of 16 in the Champions Cup. O’Gara is focused on the next slate of Top 14 games, as he tries to get a squad depleted of Six Nations stars to ascend the table from their current 8th place perch.

The La Rochelle head coach, who was enlisted by Guinness to deliver a rousing team talk ahead of Ireland’s opening Six Nations fixture against France, spoke with SportsJOE about his club, and the season so far. He also opened up about Ireland’s Six Nations championship, but was quick to address matters on a possible role in Andy Farrell’s British & Irish Lions set-up.

In late 2023, O’Gara spoke with Off The Ball about getting involved with the Lions. The former Ireland outhalf said a year-long sabbatical would rule him out of going for the top Lions job but he did seem open to a potential assistant coach role. He stated:

“If there was a potential opening, I am sure the bosses here, depending on my willingness to show interest in it, would be very open to trying to see me in my best version. My best version might be coaching with Andy Farrell with the Lions. That would be extremely exciting I think. I don’t think reasonable people would put a stop to that.”

When we pressed O’Gara on possibly working out a deal with Stade Rochelais to do some Lions coaching, in the summer of 2025, we found a man eager to set the story straight.


Guinness, the official sponsors of the Guinness Six Nations, has enlisted Ronan O’Gara to deliver a rousing team talk ahead of Ireland Men’s opening fixture against France. In the video, O’Gara call to the people of Ireland to seize ‘l’opportunité’ and get together with friends at home, in the pub or in the stadium. Guinness is providing fans with the ‘l’opportunité’ to win exclusive prizes, including match tickets and unique match-day experiences as part of the Guinness Giveaway. To enter, simply visit HERE

Ronan O’Gara on 2025 Lions Tour

Ronan O’Gara toured with the British & Irish Lions in 2001 and 2009, featuring in two Test matches. He retired, from Munster and Ireland, in 2013 and went straight into coaching with Racing 92. He then moved on to Crusaders, in New Zealand, before returning to France and taking up a role with Stade Rochelais.

He took the reins from Jono Gibbes when, after one season together, the Kiwi headed to Clermont. Under O’Gara, La Rochelle have won two Champions Cup titles and reached last season’s Top 14 Final, pipped at the death by Romain Ntamack.

Asked if getting involved in the Lions coaching team would be something he would like to do, O’Gara cut in:

“That’s something that you have to completely rephrase. I have no decision-making capacity, there. No. It has nothing to do with me whatsoever.

“It is a decision that is with Andy Farrell, and Andy Farrell has a lot in his play at the minute. I also have a lot of going on, with my kind of coaching ticket. So, it’s not a question for me to even go near.”

O’Gara, given his success as a top-level rugby coach, is often linked with returns to this country, for potential roles with Munster or Ireland. He was also on a three-man shorlist for the England head coach job, but was offered a new contract at La Rochelle and has a clear affinity with the club, and region.

“I have a very short-term focus,” he said. “I’m not a man for looking into the future. I’m just like – get what you know right, and the rest will look after itself. It is a lovely place to live. It’s a fantastic city and I enjoy the club.”

“Unless we get the short term right,” he added, “you get tipped over. So standards have risen, the expectation level is a lot higher than it was two years ago. But that’s a compliment, you know.”

Lions, Six Nations, it is all talk and the focus of other people, insists O’Gara. “We’ve got a lot of injuries at the minute, we got boys playing Six Nations, so this will be a difficult period. We need to get as many points out of it as possible.”

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