Ronan O'Gara recalls brilliant story about David Humphreys and their Ireland rivalry 5 years ago

Ronan O'Gara recalls brilliant story about David Humphreys and their Ireland rivalry

Johnny Sexton is currently the top dog in Irish rugby but he may faces challenges from the likes of Joey Carbery and the newly qualified Tyler Bleyendaal in 2018.

Ever since the retirement of Ronan O'Gara, though, Sexton has faced little stiff competition for the Ireland No.10 jersey. Carbery, Ian Keatley, Ian Madigan and Paddy Jackson have all started at outhalf but the 31-year-old is head and shoulders above the rest.


Bleyendaal may yet provide that challenge but he must first return to full fitness and then dislodge the in-form Keatley from the Munster XV. No easy task.

Carbery impressed many in his second start, as outhalf, for Ireland against Fiji but was injured in the same game and is only due back in late January. Sexton, then, is likely to go into another Six Nations as Ireland's go-to man, and no harm in that.

However, it would be nice if some genuine competition would emerge in the coming months. We are already looking back wistfully at the days when the TV camera would locate Sexton, O'Gara or David Humphreys on the Ireland bench whenever their goal-kicking rival made a mistake.

Yes, before Sexton and O'Gara duelled, there was O'Gara and Humphreys battling it out for No.10.


Earlier this season, O'Gara spoke to The Hard Yards about his rivalry with the Ulster outhalf [from 14:00 below] and how his own Munster teammates loved nothing better than winding him up. That was certainly the case when Humphreys scored 37 points [6 penalties, 4 drop goals, a try and a conversion] in a 42-19 Heineken Cup win over Wasps, back in 2001.

"There were times," O'Gara recalled, "when we used to have some laughs in the Clarion [hotel] on Friday nights.

"We used to meet there before the big Munster games in Thomond Park, on the Saturday. Normally, during my time, Ulster would play on the Friday nights and my direct competition was Humphs.

"So everyone would gather around the TV and we'd be watching the boys, and I can remember one time Humph scored 37 points on a Friday night. It was like [laughs] the lads had won the Lotto! You could see the look on all the lads' faces, and they'd say, 'ROG, you've got your work cut out for you tomorrow'.

"That's only normal, that you'd say to yourself, 'What can you do? This guy is on fire at the moment'. And then you've to go back to your room and pretend, 'Ah nothing has really happened; I've my game tomorrow'. You concentrate on getting yourself right and everything will be grand. But you know, in hindsight, that it won't be grand. He's had a cracker of a game and he's going to be ahead of ya.

"In that regard, you've got to learn from that and get better from that. That's what competition is all about."


O'Gara said he eventually learned to concentrate on delivering consistent performances. "You keep biting and biting and eventually you get your break," he remarked.

That he did. O'Gara and Humphreys traded the 10 jersey for the first two years after the Munster outhalf made his Test debut. From 2003 onward, though, O'Gara had the edge.

Still, it didn't stop the Munster lads from slagging whenever Humphreys had another one of those big Friday nights.

You can listen to the full chat between Ronan O'Gara and Ian Keatley, on The Hard Yards, below: