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O'Gara's possible World Cup role


Former Ireland out-half O'Gara linked with surprise World Cup role

Ronan O’Gara has emerged as a surprise contender to link up with Jacques Brunel’s under-fire France for the World Cup in Japan.

The conclusion of the Six Nations reignited debate over whether Brunel’s back room staff needs additional help to lift itself out of the spiral that has seen them win just five of their 16 matches under the head coach who appointed in a hurry as successor to Guy Noves, who was sacked in December 2017. 

The electroshock which federation president Bernard Laporte hoped would happen with the change of guard didn’t materialise, as the French have stumbled from one calamity to the next.

There were mid-Six Nations rumours that ex-French captain Fabien Galthie could be parachuted in on the coaching ticket. Brunel stood by the staff he had, but the debate has now reignited with Midi Olympique on Monday championing the case for former scrum-half’s inclusion.

Now another French newspaper, L’Equipe, has reported that Galthie isn’t the only potential candidate who could provide technical expertise in the countdown to a World Cup pool where France are drawn against England, Argentina, USA and Tonga, the island nation who surprise them at the 2011 finals in  New Zealand. 

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O’Gara, whose Test level coaching experience amounts to spending a week in Ireland camp in New York during 2017, could potentially link up with Brunel on a freelance basis. 

The former Racing 92 defence coach is currently working for Crusaders, the defending Super Rugby champions, and would be available at the latest by the beginning of July.    

The France team staff are conducting a Six Nations review from Wednesday to Friday to discuss a fourth place finish they only sealed with a shaky win over Italy in Rome. It offers the opportunity for them to consider if they need additional help, something Laporte would be willing to sanction.

“I was hoping for an electroshock, it didn’t work. In upsetting the staff because things were not going well, we were hoping for a better state of mind but the results did not follow,” said Laporte about his axing of Noves 16 months ago.  

Head coach Scott Robertson and assistant coach Ronan O’Gara enjoy a tram ride during a Crusaders Super Rugby cup final reception in Christchurch in 2018 (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

“We need to go even further in terms of content and skills. I’m here to find solutions. Things must change and I will listen to the coaches in place to know their feelings.

“I think he Jacques answered the question (about additional staff) for the Six Nations tournament but not for the World Cup. Once again, the request must come from them,” said the federation chief ahead of the post-mortem about a Six Nations where France lost to Wales, England and Ireland.

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Former Ireland out-half O'Gara linked with surprise World Cup role