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"You're burning up inside" | ROG on Humphreys rivalry

Thom Malone
Thom Malone

21:47 30 Mar 2020


Ronan O'Gara and David Humphreys relived some of the history of their rivalry for Ireland on Monday Night Rugby on Off The Ball.

O'Gara arrived on screen with a fresh Championship haircut, or a Covid cut perhaps, such is its severity, although apparently not as bad as his son's.

The rivalry between the pair seemed to get under the skin of the Munster man more than the Ulster out-half. Something his Munster team-mates enjoyed reminding O'Gara about.

Disaster

O'Gara remembers their rivalry through the prism of European Cup nights. Friday nights were when Ulster would regularly play while Munster was usually on a Saturday.

"From my point-of-view, it was a disaster, my direct opponent got the first crack on a Friday night."

The situation used to rile O'Gara, something the rest of the Munster team relished.

On one particular evening as the Munster man was being treated by the physio in the Clarion Hotel on the night before a European game on Saturday.

ROG recounts the tale: "I remember one game, in particular, all the smiles on all my teammates' faces as they came in.

"I asked them what happened? They said 'Humps just got 37 points.'

"I remember Quinny, Axel and Gaillimh - they thought it was the best thing that ever happened."

O'Gara said he could not escape it, it clearly affected his preparation.

"How do you even face into a game after that, you're a young kid.

"You talk to your dad. Ulster went well. Yeah. Humps is on fire. Yeah."

The reaction from O'Gara is suppressed in the face of his experienced teammates relishing the situation.

"You're burning up inside."

Changing

O'Gara knew the Ireland situation was changing, becoming more professional. The arrival of O'Driscoll had changed the thinking he says: There was a little bit of a change in mindset when O'Driscoll went into that (Ireland) team."

It's a team O'Gara was very close to at the time, "I was 31 of 30 (players) going into the '99 World Cup." That was the last time Ireland only brought two out-halves to a Rugby World Cup.

Even if the then Munster youngster had made the trip, he is in no doubt who owned the number ten shirt at the time.

"When a fella is playing like that there's not much you can do. From 2000 to 2003 Humps was in the driving seat."

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Read more about

1999 Rugby World Cup 2003 Rugby World Cup David Humphreys Ireland Rugby Team Ronan O'Gara

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