Thursday 14 December 2017

'It'll be odd, no doubt about it' - Ronan O'Gara plotting the downfall of Munster just doesn't seem right

Ronan O'Gara, left, and Paul O'Connell during their Munster days
Ronan O'Gara, left, and Paul O'Connell during their Munster days

John Fallon

Ronan O’Gara says it will strange plotting the downfall of his beloved Munster on Sunday week when his Racing 92 side clash with them in the opening round of the Champions Cup in Paris.

But he is relieved that the first game against his native province will be in France and not at Thomond Park.

O’Gara, now in his fourth season in Paris where he is defence coach on a management ticket with Laurent Labit and Laurent Travers, said it will be unusual sending out a team to try defeat Munster.

"Yeah, it will be. Different obviously. It's different rugby too. There are a lot of dogfights over here. There are a lot of massive men playing the game.

“The physicality is immense. In Europe, the pace of the game will be better, there'll be a better skill level. But that's the challenge. You have to be able to play all games."

Racing 92 will be hoping to maintain their perfect home record when they host Stade Francais in a Paris derby this Saturday afternoon, having lost all four games on the road so far this season in defence of their crown.

The 4.15pm kick-off on Sunday week at Stades Yves du Manoir in Colombes north-east Paris is unlikely to set the pulses racing and will have a reduced attendance compared to a Saturday game.

"Wherever we're going, we're looking for results,” added O’Gara. “It'll be a new competition, first game up. It'll be strange. It'll be a dead feeling probably in the stadium. It'll be odd, no doubt about it."

"Things move on quickly in sport. The reality is that I'm trying to do a job to stop Munster getting a performance or an outcome. It'll be interesting, I suppose."

O’Gara knows that it will be entirely different when the French champions come to Thomond Park in January.

"Exactly. The big thing will be the home game, I suppose."

"That will be different. There's not much of an emotion attached in Colombes. But going to Thomond Park, I lived every dream there so that'll be very special,” he added.

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