Ronan O'Gara: I don't have answers for Racing 92 away record, one point from 15 games

Ronan O'Gara: I don't have answers for Racing 92 away record, one point from 15 games

Three games, 109 points conceded.

Not the kind of figures normally associated with reigning French champions and no doubt a source of keen interest to Rassie Erasmus and the rest of the Munster brains trust before they face Racing 92 in just over a fortnight from now.

Ronan O'Gara isn't shying away from it, writes Brendan O'Brien of the Irish Examiner.

Defence coach with the Parisian outfit, the Munster and Ireland legend was in Dublin yesterday to speak at the Huddle performance, leadership and networking conference at the Aviva Stadium where he addressed recent trials head on.

"We have 14 out of 15 points from our games at home and we're zero from 15 from our games away from home," he said. "Why is that? It's certainly got to do with us. A hangover, potentially, but also as champions there is a target now on your back.

"When you go to a local town everyone wants to beat you and that is something new for me that I am learning about that I don't have answers for at the minute. I'm the defence coach and we have copped 108 points in the last three games.

"So am I going to change what I believe in? In the (Top 14) final we went down to 14 men after 20 minutes and won against Toulon. So I just have to cop that and keep the players confident."

His figures were slightly awry.

None of which changed the central tenet of his words. In the midst of his talk on lessons gleaned from his three seasons and more on the continent, he touched again on recent defensive worries and his response to them.

"To succeed there needs to be a massive calmness. That is massively underappreciated. It is easy for me to say 'okay we will change up the defence now, this isn't working'. But I have a massive belief that it is working."

It was, overall, an intriguing insight into one of Irish sport's most fascinating characters and one who started off by addressing an audience directly for the first time rather than participating in just a more familiar Q&A.

That was all perfectly in keeping with a talk on his French experiences that touched on the need to grow and adapt, which O'Gara had to do when starting at Racing within two months of playing his last game for Munster back in 2013.

He spoke of the head-spinning nature of that quick turnaround from player to coach and how basic pillars needed for success which had been taken for granted with Munster and Ireland simply didn't exist when he arrived.

Introducing them was, he said, a "no-brainer".

"I suppose I was a little bit shocked initially to see the attitudes of players. It was something you took for granted with Ireland and Munster, maybe in a special time that I played when guys were extremely driven."

No-one could argue that he hasn't made the move to France a success and, though it was a brave step into the unknown at the time, he seemed taken aback later when it was put to him that way.

It certainly wasn't easy walking out of the school yard those few months to the strains of his children crying but, regardless of what happens professionally from here on in, the French sojourn has been declared a success.

"I will come home tonight and (the children) will be yapping and arguing in French and that is something massively gained irrespective of the coaching side of things. I may fail but six other people have (been) enhanced in what has happened already.

"So from my point of view the coaching now is a bonus."

More in this Section

Patrick Hoban targets 100 goals as he signs deal to stay at Dundalk until 2021Patrick Hoban targets 100 goals as he signs deal to stay at Dundalk until 2021

TJ Doheny says he is ready for rematch with Danny RomanTJ Doheny says he is ready for rematch with Danny Roman

Jonny May recalls how missing night out led to England debut as he approaches 50th capJonny May recalls how missing night out led to England debut as he approaches 50th cap

Judge adjourns court case that could see Bury Football Club wound upJudge adjourns court case that could see Bury Football Club wound up


Lifestyle

Can you imagine Spanish churros, Moroccan tagines or even Christmas cakes without its fragrant taste?MIchelle Darmody: Warm smells of cinnamon

Rachel Howard visits the South Moravia region to sample this eastern European country’s finest tipples.They’re big on beer but could the Czech Republic be raising a glass to wine tourism too?

Lisa Salmon catches up with a cardiologist, who explains how a patient’s own stem cells can repair damage from heart disease and heart failure.How stem cells are mending broken hearts

Hannah Stephenson discovers America’s dark past and Martin Luther King’s vision for its future by following the civil rights trail.Charting America’s path to freedom on a road trip through the Deep South

More From The Irish Examiner