The La Rochelle manager dedicated his team’s European Champions Cup win to his mother Joan
Rugby hero Ronan O’Gara said his mother is doing well after she recently underwent a six-hour surgery to remove blood around her brain.
The La Rochelle manager dedicated the team’s first-ever European Champions Cup win to his mother Joan, who was unable to attend after recovering from the operation.
The former Munster player said it was “hairy for a few days” as her operation took place the same week of the Heineken Cup final.
“She is good, she is as fit as a fiddle, usually, this is the first Champions Cup game she has ever missed,” he told the Irish Independent.
“There was a day or two that we were worried about her but my dad was all over it, he is a medic himself so he was able to read the scans.
“There was blood around her brain, so she had an operation, not on the brain itself but around it.
“But still, when you are out of action for a six-hour operation you want your mum back, so it was hairy for a few days.”
The Cork man, who was speaking ahead of the launch of Benetti Menswear’s spring and summer collection as their ambassador, said it was “powerful and raw” to watch La Rochelle win and that it is important to him to share such achievements with his family.
“My brothers, my wife and my kids were there and they were the first people I saw,” he said.
“It was very powerful, it was very raw, it was nearly payback for committing so much to rugby the way I have.
“The fact that you just pack up and go and then it comes together for your team to score at the final play of the game, it was a very special day for me.”
O’Gara has lived in Paris and Christchurch, New Zealand during his rugby career and is now situated in La Rochelle, where he lives with his wife Jessica and five children JJ, Zak, Max, Rua and Molly.
He said although the job is not always rosy and it can sometimes be lonely, it has been a great adventure for his family.
“Being the boss of a club, you have to make tough decisions sometimes. It’s not all rosy. Some people think ‘look at him, it’s a great job’ but there’s a lot of negatives as well,” he said.
“It has been a great adventure for the family. I suppose the fact that I had a lot of ex-teammates, there would always be someone to go for a coffee with, but that’s not really available now and you don’t really make new friends in your forties,” the 45-year-old said.
“You can hook up with people, but I had a great group of rugby friends and non-rugby friends in Cork that I enjoyed hanging around with but that’s gone when you decide to move.”
O’Gara said his family have settled in well in France and as it is near Ireland, they feel less isolated there than when they lived in New Zealand.
“When you are in Europe it’s different. La Rochelle to Dublin is an hour and 20 minutes’ flight, same from Paris to Dublin, you can get there in an afternoon so it’s very accessible,” he said.
“But in New Zealand or Australia you are very much on the other side of the world. You feel it and you have to plan to come home, but anywhere in Europe you can travel now with Covid hopefully behind us.”
O’Gara said he doesn’t know if he will return to Ireland when his contract with La Rochelle is up.
“I don’t know, I have been reminded many times that all that matters is your health, that decides everything,” he said.
“Depending on what happens and how the team goes, my immediate focus would be to stay with La Rochelle. They are a team on the up and I think we are building something.”