It’s important to have empathy – sometimes I can disappoint myself on this front
When I finally catch up with Ronan O’Gara on a Wednesday evening, it’s after a not inconsiderable delay to the proposed start time for the interview.
It’s not the legendary fly-half’s fault – he does a number of press interviews and journalists before me have clearly been eager to take the opportunity to ask him about all things rugby, at home and abroad.
Undoubtedly, Ireland’s second most capped player had been asked what he would do if he could swap places with Ireland manager Andy Farrell, and his role as head coach at La Rochelle in France.
But my mission is a little different – I ask what keeps him up at night, the last time he cried, his worst features.
“From time to time, I can have a short circuit,” he admits.
“I could do more listening,” he adds, “and not always assume I have an answer for everything. It’s important to have empathy and sometimes I can disappoint myself on that front. .”
Athletes are not always enthusiastic about answering personal questions. But that wasn’t the case with O’Gara, born in California and raised in Cork.
Maybe it helped that I asked him if he’d like to turn off his camera on Zoom (it was an enthusiastic “yes”). It’s a popular suggestion these days.
Ronan O’Gara kicked off this year’s Aviva Mini Rugby festivals. The National Festival takes place at Aviva Stadium in May. For more information, visit aviva.ie/minirugby.
My morning routine is a shower, I end up with a cold [burst] and havea good café au lait afterwards. During confinement I had a Sage coffee machine. It’s the best purchase I’ve ever made.
For 15 or 16 years, I sacrificed a lot. The reason I train now is so I can eat whatever I want. I love burgers. We have a very good sushi restaurant near our house and the French cuisine is excellent. So much of my life now is about food and wine – and beer.
I desperately need chocolate. During lockdown, I had a cup of Barry’s Tea and chocolate every night.
Sick children. Although last month my wife Jessica’s sick dogs kept me up many times! We have a french bulldog and a jack russell. And I have five children – Rua, Molly, JJ, Zak and Max. So you can imagine what my house looks like.
Sitting outside drinking a beer or a coffee, playing golf, watching TV, biking with my family, I have no problem relaxing.
Roy Keane, Jimmy Barry Murphy, Michael Bradley – all the locals inspired me.
Grind coffee beans in the morning.
I had tears in my eyes watching Rachael Blackmore win the Gold Cup. It was a strong moment. She had such a big impact on the sport. She gave young girls the opportunity to dream. It is really very important.
‘Your health is your wealth.’ I have no interest in going for a run at the end of the day, but 30 minutes after a run is a very strong feeling. I don’t think there’s anyone who ever regretted exercising.
Fake. I try to create an environment where people feel they can be themselves.
I don’t know if I would call that praying, but I’m definitely talking to God.
A hug from my children.
“Adversity makes some men beat, others break records.”
It depends on the mood. Barbados, Fiji… France also has many attractions.