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08th Aug 2023

Behind-the-scenes footage of Ronan O’Gara team talk shows why his players have fully bought in

Patrick McCarry

Ronan O'Gara

“Je m’en f**king fous!”

At the start of last season, SportsJOE embarked on an enjoyable mission to follow Ronan O’Gara and his La Rochelle team over the course of a season.

On a visit to the club’s Apivia Park training facilities, team captain Grégory Alldritt recalled the squad’s first big pre-season meeting for the 2021/22 season.

“I can remember it clearly. When he arrived at that first meeting, he said, ‘On the 28th of May, we are winning the Champions Cup’. Yeah, okay. Okay, ROG. Let’s play the first game, and we’ll see!

“But he was right – game after game, we managed to build something and we arrived in Marseille, again. That first final, against Toulouse, helped us a lot. But we had decided, long before we got to Marseille, that we were going to win it.”

When Alldritt told us that story, the Stade Rochelais crest had a newly installed star above it, signifying that they had won a European Cup. Pay a visit to the same facilities now and that crest is still there, but with a second star in place.

O’Gara has built something truly special at La Rochelle and was only denied a league and cup double, last season, when Toulouse outhalf Romain Ntamack score a try out of nowhere, right at the death.

The former Munster and Ireland player arrived at the French club determined to take them from competitors and nearly men to winners. After leading them to their first Champions Cup triumph in Marseille, in 2022, O’Gara commented:

“The boys were probably a bit shocked at how much I loved the competition… this was something new to them. Once we got a bit of momentum, they could see, ‘Now I know what this crazy Irishman is about’!”

And now, thanks to a CANAL + clip that has been shared online, and since gone viral, everyone can see what this crazy Irishman is about. The clip, taken from earlier in the season, shows a rousing O’Gara team-talk, delivered in French but in that Cork twang, and with the odd English curse word sprinkled in, for good measure.

Ronan O’Gara on La Rochelle mentality

Before La Rochelle put their Champions Cup on the line, against old foes Leinster, Ronan O’Gara told us about his credo at the club.

“We’re driven by performance, you know, and obviously titles are a result of what you do,” he said.

“For me, coaching, a big emphasis is on performance and getting better. If you don’t get better, you get beaten. It’s a slogan from the Crusaders – you get better or you get beaten. I like it, it’s very simple and it is easy to adhere to.

“So, you either have that drive in you to get better, every day, or you get beaten. The boys are showing up well, so far.”

The boys showed up well in the final, too, rebounding from the concession of three early tries against Leinster to secure a memorable victory.

We can only hope, one day, to see a recording of that O’Gara victory speech.

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