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'Rugby in one language is hard enough' | O'Gara on the challenge of coaching in French

Kenneth Fox
Kenneth Fox

16:19 31 Jul 2019

Speaking to Off The Ball, new head coach of La Rochelle Ronan O'Gara said it's been tough trying to communicate to his players in a second language. 

"Rugby in one language is hard enough because the opposition has a plan to mess you up", said the Irish rugby legend.

"When you think about it, you have all different nationalities and cultures and you're trying to get your theme across for the year and it's not your first language."

"One word in French that's placed in a different part of the phrase changes its interpretation to players.

"I've kind of found that once or twice this week which isn't ideal," O'Gara said.

After finishing fifth place in the Top 14 last year, La Rochelle will be looking to challenge some of the big boys like Toulouse and Clermont.

However, O'Gara isn't putting too much emphasis on results next season.

"I place immense value in getting your preparation right and your details right. If you get them right it gives you a chance to perform", the 42-year-old explained.

"I don't look at outcomes anymore, once you get the ingredients right the outcome looks after itself".

The business of rugby

Having worked as the kicking coach for Racing 92, O'Gara is well aware of how rugby is perceived in France.

"I think the Top 14 is a business as well, I don't think Irish rugby is a business.

"Over here, there is more potential for players to see it as a business and move clubs for 'X' amount of money."

"I don't see that in Ireland. There are obviously a lot more clubs over here and because of the regulations where a certain amount of French players are needed in every squad, it creates a market for French players," O'Gara stated.

The Top 14 is synonymous for its vibrant crowds and O'Gara is looking forward to soaking up the atmosphere on matchday.

"It [La Rochelle] seems to be a rugby town, that was definitely one of the attractions. Anytime I went there with Racing 92 there was a pumping atmosphere in the ground", the ex-Munster out-half said.

"There were 16,000 people and I think that's really important, that's one of the main negatives of Super Rugby in that the crowds and the influence of the supporters aren't as big."

"The crowd at La Rochelle get behind their team and make it difficult for opposing teams.

"They have a huge role in pushing the team where they need to get to. I think it's important to have guys playing in front of a passionate home support," O'Gara said.

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