Ronan O’Gara open to coaching France if Ireland don’t want him

Ronan O'Gara celebrates Champions Cup victory
Ronan O'Gara is the head coach of La Rochelle - Getty Images/David Rogers

Ronan O’Gara is open to coaching France in the future, emphasising that he wants to win a Rugby World Cup with either Ireland or his adopted country.

O’Gara has spent nearly all of his coaching career in France aside from a brief spell in New Zealand with the Crusaders, having first joined Racing 92 as an assistant back in 2013 before taking over as head coach of La Rochelle in 2021 after two years as an assistant.

Discussing the chances of him taking over a Test side following the next Rugby World Cup in 2027, the former Ireland No 10 told RMC Radio’s Super Moscato Show: “I’d like to win a World Cup. I dream of winning things, whether it’s with Ireland or France – I like it.”

One potential stumbling block in O’Gara’s way is the result of a referendum back in 2019 among French amateur clubs regarding the possibility of hiring a foreign head coach to lead France. At the time, 59 per cent of the participating clubs rejected the proposal, when Joe Schmidt and Warren Gatland, both New Zealanders, were viewed as potential options to replace Jacques Brunel. France instead opted for Fabien Galthie, whose contract runs until 2027.

O’Gara noted that situation while adding there was no guarantee of the next Ireland head coach being Irish. Ireland have not had an Irishman in charge since Declan Kidney back in 2013, with Schmidt’s tenure followed by English head coach Andy Farrell, whose contract expires after the 2027 tournament.

“I’m not French. I’m trying to prove myself and put my name into the debate. It’s possible that, for Ireland, the next coach will be from New Zealand, South Africa, or Australia – that’s just the way it is,” O’Gara said.

O’Gara also rejected the possibility of becoming a member of Fabien Galthie’s backroom staff with France, given his current preference for another top role.

“Be a member of the staff? I don’t think so. When you’ve had a taste of the number one position, of those responsibilities, it’s difficult [to not be in overall charge].”

La Rochelle were knocked out of the Champions Cup by Leinster in the quarter-finals, ending their hopes of winning three successive European titles.

The side are currently sixth in the Top 14, where the top six sides make the play-offs, with Pau, Castres and Perpignan all hunting them down. Despite their continental success, La Rochelle continue to chase a first-ever domestic title, having lost the Top 14 final to Toulouse in 2021 and 2023.

“We’ve already won two European Cup titles, but that’s not enough, even if some people think it is. I’m a liar if I say that everything is good because everything is not good… in the Top 14, it’s in the crisis that you find something you don’t know about your team.”

Broaden your horizons with award-winning British journalism. Try The Telegraph free for 3 months with unlimited access to our award-winning website, exclusive app, money-saving offers and more.