“At the minute, it’s hate” – Ronan O’Gara on his relationship with Johnny Sexton


Ronan O’Gara and Johnny Sexton have had an interesting relationship over the years, to say the very least, and it’s got even more complicated in recent months.

When Sexton first burst onto the scene as O’Gara’s heir to the throne, the pair clashed on a number of occasions, with the young buck looking to overtake the veteran and take his spot on the national team as the country’s leading 10.

Then not long after O’Gara retired from the game, Sexton joined Racing 92 where the Corkman was working as a coach, leading to the pair mending their relationship and becoming good friends.

But another rivalry has emerged over the last couple of seasons, with O’Gara’s La Rochelle side defeating Sexton’s Leinster in the last two successive Champions Cup finals, with Sexton picking up a ban following the most recent final for an incident with the match officials and ROG.

In an interview with Jim Hamilton for RugbyPass, O’Gara was asked if he and Sexton “get on” at the moment – and it turns out their recent issues with Leinster and La Rochelle have certainly affected the relationship between the two.

“It’s been a love-hate, hate-love, hate-love [relationship],” said O’Gara.

“Probably at the minute, it’s hate, if that’s the right way [to put it]. We’ve chatted this through. Two into one doesn’t go. La Rochelle and Leinster don’t go.”

But O’Gara still has the utmost respect for Sexton, having held that 10 jersey in European finals with Munster and on the world’s stage with Ireland for many years himself. He understands why Sexton is the way he is and looks forward to the pair being able to sit down in the years to come and chat about everything over a glass of wine.

“There’s so many different layers to Johnny but there’s a really good soldier. I’d like to really think the same [about me] but sometimes, the perception isn’t reality with the two of them,” O’Gara added.

“You’re essentially responsible for your team when you’re the ten, the boss and the goalkicker, and in his case the captain. You’re trying to drive the team.

“What has happened in the last few seasons has been the fact that we have come across them. He’s trying to drive his team, I’m trying to drive my team.

“It’s pretty fake if you think everything is going to be rosy. This is European Cups that we are talking about. This means an awful lot to an awful lot of people.

“There’s going to be, without anything controversial, a difference in opinion on how we see things. I’m trying to mess him and he’s trying to mess my team up. If you have two strong minds, it’s not going to be a period where you’re going to get on.

“The most important thing is, there will always be huge respect there. You can park that and hopefully revisit it because you’d appreciate it that once you come out of that environment, your ball of stress and competitiveness, there’s a whole new world out there and there will be many years after where you will be able to have a vin rouge and a nice bit of fromage and chat through how crazy we were at that period.”

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