O'Gara confirms Racing Metro switch
May 17, 2013
Ronan O'Gara will join the coaching staff at Racing Metro next season © Getty Images
Munster and Ireland fly-half Ronan O'Gara has agreed a two-year contract to join Top 14 side Racing Metro as assistant coach in a move that signals the end of a glittering playing career.
O'Gara has spurned the offer of a new one-year deal with Munster to put pen to paper on a deal with Racing owner Jacky Lorenzetti that will see him re-unite with former Ireland rival Jonathan Sexton who signed for the French giants earlier this year. The 36-year-old will work under a new coaching set-up headed by Laurent Labit and Laurent Travers who will take charge of the side having been recruited from Castres.
"I have ambitions in the years ahead to coach at a high level and, with this in mind, I can confirm now that I will be joining Racing Metro's coaching staff in July," O'Gara wrote in the Irish Examiner.
"I am hugely excited about the prospect and looking forward to the new challenge. I will be working mainly with their first team, and will also look after the half-backs at all age levels within the club. I will also be working with Racing's Academy; that excites me because I need to understand principles of coaching younger aged."
O'Gara's decision brings the curtain down on a hugely impressive playing career that has included Six Nations Grand Slam glory, three tours with the British & Irish Lions, Celtic League success and two Heineken Cup titles.
"I am trusting my instinct and it is telling me now is the appropriate time to stop," he said. "Could I have played on for another year? Of course I could, but I feel it's getting harder and harder every season and I want to leave the game at the height of my powers."
He added: "I have to be selfish and I made my decision without any input from anyone else. I just know I've always trusted my instincts on my game, in my career, in my relationships with people and it just seems to me now that I have so many positive memories in my head that I just want to go now."
The top points scorer in the history of the Heineken Cup, he played a key role in his sides European titles in 2006 and 2008. His last and record 128th Irish cap came as a replacement in Ireland's 12-8 defeat to Scotland in this year's Six Nations and he made a further two Test appearances for the Lions. He is also his country's leading points scorer with 1083 points to his name - a figure that sees him ranked fourth on the all-time list
O'Gara also revealed that the offer of a new contract from Munster was not the only one tabled in recent weeks. "I have had plenty of meaningful enquiries over the past few weeks from clubs around the world, ascertaining my interest in playing for them," he wrote. "Some in France, Europe and beyond. The answer though was very simple: No thank you. No-one else. I have never given serious consideration to leaving Munster of the course of my playing career because the club satisfied all my ambitions and motivations."
© Getty Images
And the Irish Rugby Football Union's CEO Philip Browne paid tribute to O'Gara saying: "The news that Ronan O'Gara has decided to retire from playing draws to a close an incredible career in which he established himself as an iconic figure in Irish rugby over the past decade or so.
"His arrival on the international scene will be forever remembered for that wonderful image of Ronan and his long-time scrum half partner, Peter Stringer, on their international debut, being shepherded by Mick Galway as they emotionally lined up for the national anthem. Ronan's career since then has been stellar and marked by his extraordinary ability to deliver, time and again, for Ireland and Munster. His drop goal to seal Ireland's Grand Slam victory at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff being arguably his finest hour."
O'Gara and Sexton are just two of a host of top names set to bolster Racing's quest for a first Top 14 title since 1990. Joining them in Paris will be Wales internationals Jamie Roberts and Dan Lydiate, Northampton props Soane Tonga'uiha and Brian Mujati and South African international Juandré Kruger.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies
Tom Hamilton runs the rule over just where the six countries stand ahead of the global gathering in September