Alan Quinlan was on Friday's OTB AM to talk about Ronan O’Gara being named the new head coach of La Rochelle.
“I would’ve loved for him to come back and be involved in the Irish set-up or the Munster set-up. But this is a natural progression for him, taking a head coach role.
“La Rochelle are a good side, they have a lot of structures put in place and financially they’re pretty sound. They have the ability to go out and sign players,” Quinlan said.
O’Gara went straight into coaching after finishing his playing career with Munster in 2013. He joined Racing 92 as a defence coach before heading to New Zealand to become an assistant coach for the Crusaders in 2017.
“It’ll be interesting to see how he brings that experience that he’s gained so far. The experience with Racing, the experience with probably the best club side ever in world rugby in the Crusaders and what they’ve achieved, their consistency over the years and the ability to produce so many All Blacks.
“To be taken in there and to be welcomed and to be spoken so highly of by those players in New Zealand. So he’s achieved a lot. To go again and to go to France and not come back, it’s probably the right call for him,” Quinlan commented.
Quinlan was surprised that O’Gara had opted against returning to Ireland for either a role with Munster or Ireland but felt that it could be the correct move in the long term.
“I think he’s ready now but maybe he feels he wants to extend that experience more and really, this is the first role he’s going to take when he’s head coach,” Quinlan said.
Quinlan, who played with O’Gara at both Munster and Ireland for many years, felt that O’Gara had also been suitable for coaching even when he was still playing.
“He’s very intelligent, the way he sees the game and the way he reads the game. All top players don’t make great coaches either, there’s no guarantee that the transition will be smooth.
“It’s about the way you translate your messages across and he’s a really good ability to capture a room but also at giving positive messages and giving good information about the way he sees things,” Quinlan explained.
O’Gara will join up with La Rochelle after the Super Rugby season finishes up in a few weeks. He will work under former Ulster head coach Jonno Gibbes, who is currently the director of rugby at the French club.