MUNSTER AND IRELAND legend Ronan O’Gara has been inducted into World Rugby’s Hall of Fame at a ceremony in the town of Rugby in the UK today.
O’Gara became inductee number 139, with Australia’s Stephen Larkham, Frenchman Pierre Villepreux, Wales’ Liza Burgess and New Zealander Bryan Williams also becoming part of the Hall of Fame at the ceremony.
41-year-old O’Gara is the 12th Irish inductee, following in the footsteps of Jack Kyle, Willie John McBride, Syd Millar, Tony O’Reilly, Mike Gibson, Ronnie Dawson, Keith Wood, Basil Maclear, Fergus Slattery, Tom Kiernan and Brian O’Driscoll.
O’Gara earned 128 caps for Ireland during his playing career and is the nation’s all-time record points scorer with 1,083.
The out-half’s memorable drop-goal against Wales helped Ireland to clinch the 2009 Grand Slam, while O’Gara also has four Triple Crowns to his name.
He was a central figure in Munster’s rise, starring in their Heineken Cup successes in 2006 and 2008, while also guiding them to three Pro14/Celtic League titles and a Celtic Cup.
O’Gara won an All-Ireland League with Cork Con in 1998/99 and also toured with the British and Irish Lions three times.
“I really enjoyed the journey,” said O’Gara at today’s ceremony in Rugby. “I was lucky that I was injury-free for a lot of it.
“Rugby has given me the opportunity to meet and connect with and get the best out of brilliant people. Playing in the number 10 role, someone like Michael Lynagh was probably the world-class model I looked at, and Ralph Keyes at my own club.
“They were the people that inspired you and I think the longer you’re in it, your ambitions become bigger and you don’t know where to stop.
“There were 63 years where Ireland hadn’t won a Grand Slam until 2009, but just look at the national team now. I think we can do things if we connect. The 10 is a focal point but you don’t do it without great people.
“The drop-goal was amazing for my mum and dad, obviously, but it’s amazing – for the first 10 years of your career, you might do one or two, whereas at the end I was doing one every second game! I’m not boasting, it’s just something you love.”
O’Gara moved into coaching after his retirement from playing in 2013, working as an assistant coach with French club Racing 92 as they won the Top 14 in 2016 and reached the Champions Cup final the same year.
O’Gara joined New Zealand’s Crusaders as an assistant coach ahead of the 2018 season and helped them towards their Super Rugby title this year, while he has also had a brief stint with Ireland working under Joe Schmidt in 2017.
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