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Monday Apr 29, 2024

The horse may have bolted too far already - O'Gara warns Irish Rugby

La Rochelle head coach and former Munster star flyhalf Ronan O’Gara is perhaps best placed to discuss the rise of Leinster Rugby from an outsider’s perspective.

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Dominating the men in blue for the bulk of his career as a player before doing the same to them as a coach over the past three years, ROG has proven to be their kryptonite.

Yet, whilst his personal record against Leinster makes for pretty reading, his former team and the other two Irish provinces, Connacht and Ulster, have found the going much tougher.

Facing an uphill battle to match the production line of talent coming through the Leinster school’s system as well as the resources that come along with it, the other three provinces have been roundly thumped by men in blue.

Outside of Munster’s BKT URC title last season and Connacht’s 20-15/16 Pro 12 title, all of the silverware won by Irish provinces has come courtesy of Leinster.

This, combined with Leinster’s ability to attract top-class international talent, has caused major debate in Irish Rugby about how the other provinces can close the gap.

Speaking on the popular Irish Sports Show ‘Off The Ball’, O’Gara discussed the challenges facing the Irish game.

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“You can’t criticise them for doing a really, really good job at producing their own players.” He said of Leinster’s current squad.

“The capacity to sign world-class players has always been the policy of all the provinces when you go back and look (Isa) Nacewa, Doug Howlett, Jim Williams, Rock Elsom.

“That has always been there; there is no difference between Nacewa and Jordie Barrett and (RG) Snyman and Rocky Elsom; you know that’s been going on ever since the game became professional in Ireland.”

When asked if he was worried about what rugby might look like in Munster, Connacht, and Ulster in the next ten to fifteen years, O’Gara confirmed he was concerned.

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“Yeah, the horse may have bolted too far already.” He said.

Clearly shocked, show host Adrian Barry said, “Really?! That’s huge. That’s the point about the inflation of one province, and it’s probably the wrong expression to use at the expense of others.

“But it does feel like that, I am sure, to the other provinces at the minute, which would be a major concern.”

Responding, O’Gara thought about his response for a second before saying, “It would be a major concern, but the other three provinces need to stand up and fight, you know.

“They have to (say), what do we stand for, what’s our plan.

“They obviously have a plan, but I suppose the reassuring thing from a rugby point of view is that Munster can certainly challenge Leinster.

“But when you look at the cattle available to Leinster, twenty of them went to the World Cup. That’s twenty (Irish) internationals playing a club game; there isn’t another sporting environment in the world where that takes place.” He concluded.

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