Ronan O’Gara has revealed that he is now a fully qualified coach in France which means he is now allowed to stand on the side of the pitch for matches.
The former player from Munster and Ireland started as an assistant coach of Racing 92 in 2013, joining the Parisian club at the end of his playing career.
He is currently the head coach of La Rochelle after joining them in 2019, but has revealed that he has only been a fully qualified coach in the eyes of the French Rugby Federation (FFR) since last week.
– Stade Rochelais (@staderochelais) December 30, 2020
“There is every chance that I’m the thickest rugby coach in France, but at least I’m qualified.
“After six frequently interrupted years of getting my full and final coach badges through the FFR, the envelope fell in the mailbox last week.
“I spent enough afternoons moving from training to my studies at the France Rugby center of excellence in Marcoussis to make a living, I was taught by a jet fighter pilot on the handling the situation, and struggled to find the momentum to keep the endgame in sight.
“But I had my final exam on December 2 and got my results last week,” O’Gara wrote in the Irish Examiner.
‘Pitchside is where it is’
While the lack of official coach badges in France hasn’t stopped O’Gara from getting the best job at La Rochelle, it has kept him from staying on the pitch for their matches, as many French coaches do. .
While the Munster legend has admitted that he often prefers to watch games from the coach’s box in the stands most of the time, he is eager to be on the ground level with his players.
“I am now one who does not make a better coach but who allows me, at least in the Top 14, to put on a red headband and roam the sidelines.
“The notion of studious, bespectacled gurus analyzing stats and data in the coach’s box is appealing, but in the Top 14 trench warfare, that’s where it is.
“This is the battlefield where coaches line their turf, scowl and ogle the ref, intimidating him if possible, doing him a favor if not.
“Think about the GAA mentality here and you have it. I love the way Liam Sheedy and John Kiely patrol the sideline, advertise their passion, show they’re there for their players.
“When it’s a controlled passion, it’s a powerful coaching tool. Spit on the hands and encourage the boys.
“Throw some grenades down the sideline. The best field battles in sport are often those that take place outside the white lines, ”O’Gara explained.
Life is going pretty well for the former Irish half-ball in France so far, with La Rochelle in second in the Top 14, having won 10 of their 13 games so far.
La Rochelle are also set to reach the quarter-finals of the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-finals, having beaten Edinburgh and claiming a victory over Bath after the English club were unable to play the game.
Find out more about: la rochelle, ronan o’gara, Top 14