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Ronan O'Gara will not be replacing Eddie Jones as England coach

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Xavier Leoty/AFP via Getty Images)

Ronan O’Gara has been ruled out of the race to succeed Eddie Jones as England coach as he is poised to sign a lengthy contract extension that will keep him in charge at La Rochelle. It had been reported last week that the Irishman was on a three-strong RFU shortlist – along with Scott Robertson and Steve Borthwick – to succeed Jones after the 2023 World Cup in France.

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However, that scenario has now radically changed if a French media report is on the money, as O’Gara is instead set to commit to his Top 14 club for an additional three seasons rather than keep his name in the hat to fill the upcoming England vacancy.

O’Gara had spoken on a number of occasions during 2022 about his desire to be considered for the England job and he even revealed last week that he had spoken to a number of people about the position. However, he also added that he was due to hold contract talks with La Rochelle even though he had just received a ten-game matchday ban and a hefty fine from the Top 14 following his latest referee altercation.

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Those talks must have gone exceptionally well as rugbyrama.fr are now reporting that O’Gara, whose existing La Rochelle deal expires in the summer of 2024, will soon extend through to the summer of 2027, a decision that would mean he wouldn’t be a Test coaching option again until after that year’s World Cup in Australia.

O’Gara said last week about the speculation linking him to England: “Well I don’t know about a shortlist, but I have spoken to a few people. I suppose it’s a possibility but I don’t know where I am in the pecking order.

“You want to probably have a very, very good reason to leave. I don’t have that. I’m obviously in decision mode between now and Christmas because that is what happens with coaches. They always want to be done six months before the last year of contracts. That would be next season, I would be in my last year of my contract here, so I have to decide if I want to stick to club rugby or if there are options to go to the Test game.”

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According to rugbyrama.fr, that decision has now been taken and O’Gara will remain at La Rochelle for the foreseeable future. “Courted by several major rugby nations, Ronan O’Gara, who arrived in La Rochelle in the summer of 2019, should very soon extend his contract for another three years with the maritime club,” read the French media report.

“Given the recent results of Stade Rochelais in the European Cup, this is excellent news for Vincent Merling’s club… The least we can say is that Ronan O’Gara (45 years old, 128 caps) is a courted man: French champion with Racing 92 in the spring of 2016, winner of Super Rugby with the Crusaders two years later, and last May the former Irish out-half became a European champion with Stade Rochelais.

“Since then, his CV has left no one indifferent… and especially not the great nations of this game. England, who are looking for a successor to Eddie Jones, for example recently made eyes at ROG and asked about it, he told the British media: ‘Of course, I would be interested in such a post. It would be huge’.

“But according to our information, the native of Cork is about to take a completely different path. The leaders of Stade Rochelais are firmly determined to keep their manager who has been at the club since 2019 and whose technical qualities are unanimously praised by the players.

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“For his part, Ronan O’Gara would not be insensitive to repeated visits from Vincent Merling, Stade Rochelais’ president, and Pierre Venayre, the club’s general manager. Therefore, will the Munsterman extend his contract in Charente-Maritime and turn his back on the sirens of the international circuit?

“This is what is taking shape at the moment. A three-year contract, which would keep the Irish coach until the 2027 World Cup, is simply awaiting the signature of the person concerned. Case closed, it seems…”

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