England: Ronan O’Gara addresses Red Rose rumours

Jared Wright

Ronan O’Gara has addressed the rumours linking him to England, with under-pressure head coach Eddie Jones set to vacate the position at the end of the Rugby World Cup.

La Rochelle head coach O’Gara insists that he is ‘extremely happy’ to remain at the French club after he ruled himself out of contention to become the next England boss.

The World Rugby Hall of Famer has been linked with the head coach role after the Rugby World Cup and even before then, with pressure mounting on Jones after a poor Autumn Nations Series campaign.

Contact with the RFU

In his column for the Irish Examiner, the former Ireland and Munster legend confirmed that he had contact with the Rugby Football Union (RFU) but that no formal offer had been made.

“I had contact from the RFU. It’s England. If you get offered a gig like that – and I wasn’t, to be accurate – then you have to give it due consideration until such time as someone else gets the job or you officially eliminate yourself from the race. That was done in a very amicable conversation this week; ‘I’m not sure if I am making your job easier or harder, but… etc etc’.

“No hard feelings, we may meet again.” O’Gara wrote.

O’Gara’s credentials

After a successful playing career, O’Gara started coaching at Racing 92 as the club’s defence coach.

The former Munster fly-half was then courted by the Crusaders and joined Scott Robertson’s coaching staff.

He added two Super Rugby titles to his trophy cabinet with the New Zealand outfit.

A return to France followed as he joined La Rochelle as their new head coach role under director of rugby Jono Gibbes ahead of the 2019/20 season.

He then replaced Gibbes as the director of rugby ahead of the 2021/22 season and led the side to their first major silverware, defeating Leinster 24-21 in the 2021/22 Champions Cup Final.

Alternative candidates

The RFU initially expressed the desire to replace Jones after the World Cup with an English coach.

However, they have recently changed their tune with several top coaches on the market after the showpiece in France.

Robertson is the man on everyone’s lips at the moment, and after he revealed his ambition to win the Rugby World Cup with two nations, he should be on the shortlist.

Warren Gatland’s success with Wales and the British and Irish Lions over the past decade means he will undoubtedly be in the discussion.

Steve Borthwick’s success with Leicester Tigers and previously with England also make him a standout candidate, and if the RFU do want an Englishman at the helm, he is arguably the front-runner.

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