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Ronan O'Gara's column in the Examiner

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    On the Queen B...
    ‘If I didn’t like the Queen ... I wouldn’t have travelled’


    On meeting Queen Elizabeth: A trip north ends up with O’Gara being accused of disrespecting the monarch




    The Ireland squad had been invited to an official congratulations ceremony with Her Majesty in recognition of the Grand Slam. I wouldn’t have much knowledge about the royal family, though I admired Princess Diana.
    I met Prince William on Lions tours and after we beat Wales in Cardiff. He was approachable and friendly in the changing-rooms, and himself and Jessica got on well when they chatted. He told her that he hadn’t understood a word I’d said.
    I’ve sometimes been slagged by Munster and Irish mates that I look a little like him too. I’d also enjoyed a good ‘session’ in a group including Mike Tindall and Zara Phillips after an Ireland England game in Dublin when we slipped out the side door of the Shelbourne and were driven to Krystle nightclub.
    That was the extent of my knowledge of the royal family.
    It was optional for players to attend the reception but as a senior player I felt I should do so. This involved a flight from Cork and a train, so it was a big commitment. If I didn’t like the Queen, or if I’d strong feelings about the monarchy, I wouldn’t have travelled to Belfast.

    Private function
    We were in a private function for two and a half hours. We drank tea out of china, chatted with various people,and the atmosphere was very relaxed. We were advised about the protocol when meeting the Queen – how you stand and what you do.
    I can still picture the moments before meeting her. I had sweaty palms. I like to think I present myself well, so I put them in my pockets to keep them dry. That’s also a habit of mine.
    I was next in line to be introduced when an opportunistic photograph was taken a moment before I took my hands out of my pockets to greet her. If there is one thing I’d most like to clarify from my playing career,it is this incident. You don’t disrespect the Queen, and the way this image was presented to the world was appalling.
    I was portrayed as a difficult Corkman. I received supportive letters, from rabid republicans! I am a very proud Irishman and a Catholic but I am not a republican. I don’t have any strong political feelings either way; I am not politically aligned.
    Ninety percent of the Ulster team are Protestant and many of them are my friends. But irrespective of how strongly you feel, be it the Queen or the Pope or anyone in a powerful position, and especially a lady, I don’t believe you should be rude or treat them discourteously.

    Amazing photo
    It is an amazing photo. Brian’s face suggests something is happening. It couldn’t have been staged any better.We’d been informed that it was a private function, in which case the photo was a breach of confidence.
    There were a few things that didn’t add up. Some people are so stupid for thinking it was a statement, that I was trying to insult the Queen.
    The fallout was disturbing, and I’m glad to have an opportunity to explain what truly happened. It bothered me, and I wouldn’t be bothered by much.I’m thick-skinned, but I’d like to think as time has passed people would appreciate that I am respectful. Critics can slate the arse off me all they want, but this was about manners and respect.
    This reflected on my upbringing, my parents, stuff that means something to me. I was described in the Irish Independent as a lout; Kevin Myers said it was “loutish behaviour”.
    I understand it was largely my own fault, but it was never my intention to offend anyone. I wish I had taken my hands out of my pockets sooner. I was in a relaxed environment and I was looking forward to meeting the Queen, but it turned into a bit of a horror show.
    Last edited by skinnyryan; 3-November-2013, 19:59.
    Caoimhin De Burgh

    Comment


      On Sexty :
      Not even Rala could get us talking. Not even the Pope could have mended things’


      In this extract from Unguarded: My Life in Rugby, written with IrishTimes rugby correspondent Gerry Thornley, Ronan O’Gara talks about his relationship with his rival and team-mate Johnny Sexton




      Our relationship started badly. When he took to the pitch in that Munster-Leinster semi-final at Croke Park in 2009 I knew very little about him, if anything at all. He wasn’t really a big name at Leinster even though he had been around the scene for a while. At the time I was delighted to see[Felipe] Contepomi going off because I thought it would weaken the team.
      We now know with the benefit of hindsight that it strengthened Leinster. I think it became the making of them, because it gave them a general with balls at 10.
      I can still picture Johnny standing over me screaming when they scored a try –clearly a release of frustration. Aside from having to wait for his chance with Leinster, I’d most definitely said something to him as well.
      It’s a pity I don’t recall what I said to fire him up, but as we also now know, it doesn’t take much.
      For the benefit of our relationship in the future – for the next two years anyway – I have to know what makes him tick. But certainly that scream was him announcing to the world “I’m here, and I’m hereto stay”. And fair play to him. That’s what he’s done.
      For the next couple of years ours was the trickiest relationship I’ve ever experienced with any player. The good thing about it, looking back,is that while we mightn’t have been pally-pally, the team was getting on.
      An out half has to have a relationship with everyone in the squad, in different ways, from John Hayes to Brian Carney, with different jokes for different lads. But I would have avoided Johnny and he would have avoided me.
      I had my same spot on the bus all the time with the same fellas at the back –Brian, Paulie, Rob – and Johnny was nowhere to be seen, up at the front on the left. There was no possibility of his being drawn into even a general conversation among, say, 10 of us. But over the years he eventually thawed out and came down our end!
      Initially,even for kicking practice, it seemed as if he had to go to the dentist or the doctor a lot on those mornings. Typically, Deccie landed the two of us in a room together when the tension was at its height. I just said to myself, “Oh my God, is this for real?”
      I’d imagine it was worse for Johnny because I was more senior. I never had such a distant relationship with Humphs. I think it’s always trickier when the younger fella is laying down the law to the more established player.
      There were times when it became heated between me and Humphs in training, and heated for a few hours after training. He wanted to show the young fella who was the boss, and I wasn’t prepared to let him think he was.
      There was a little bit of that in Johnny too, and we are also two very stubborn fellas. When we were forced to room-share I don’t think he even stayed in the room.
      Maybe he did one night, but it was a two-night camp and he definitely wasn’t there for the second night.
      When we went for kicking practice, if there was another player around or,say, Taints – kicking coach Mark Tainton– was driving the van,everything was rosy, no problem. But neither myself nor Johnny was going to start a conversation to get the car chatting.
      It was worse if Rala [Patrick O’Reilly] was there, because Rala would be in the front, leaving the two of us in the back. At least if there were three of us one would sit in the front and we wouldn’t even have to look at each other. Not even Rala could get us talking. Not even the Pope would have mended things at that stage.
      I don’t remember exactly when or how things thawed, but they certainly had by the time of the 2011 World Cup.
      Time is a healer in everything. Perhaps typically of the two of us, it was probably played out in print – one of us reading a complimentary comment made by one of us about the other, or something like that.
      I can recall seeing one or two remarks that were positive, so I probably returned the compliment – but I’m pretty sure I didn’t instigate it. I suppose the more time you spend with a fella the more you appreciate what kind of person he is.
      Last edited by skinnyryan; 3-November-2013, 15:13.
      Caoimhin De Burgh

      Comment


        Hopefully there will be a few more extracts next week!

        Comment


          I'm confused. Are these extracts of his first book, or a new one? I only got half way through the first.
          "We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven into an age of unreason if we dig deep into our history and remember we are not descended from fearful men" Edward R Murrow

          "Little by little, we have been brought into the present condition in which we are able neither to tolerate the evils from which we suffer, nor the remedies we need to cure them." - Livy


          "I think that progress has been made by two flames that have always been burning in the human heart. The flame of anger against injustice and the flame of hope that you can build a better world" - Tony Benn

          Comment


            Its a new book. In fairness a lot has happened since 08. The Grand Slam, the emergence of JS & the nightmare that was Croke Park, the 3rd test in South Africa, Munster's fall and rise, the 2011 RWC, the end of his international career, the stoop and his move to paris

            Comment


              ... the collapse of the property market.
              Nulla semper amicus, servivit mihi, in iniuriam mihi neminem quem non persolvi

              Comment


                The Queen thing was ridiculous. He was a victim of pretty ridiculous, outdated medieval British customs, and an element of Irish (Times) society that get a horn over the chance to kick up a storm over things like that.

                A book so soon after the last one is a bit much though, even if a few things have happened. Give it 10 years anyway.
                "There are probably more annoying things than being hectored about African development by a wealthy Irish rock star in a cowboy hat, but I can't think of one at the moment"

                Paul Theroux

                Comment


                  Looks pretty tasty, but it only confirms what I felt already - no autobiography of a player who's still playing is ever worth buying. I've not read ROG's previous one but certainly won't be bothering now - although I might give this one a go.

                  Seriously, two autobiographies? That's Beckhamesque.

                  Comment


                    It is, it is, but I thought Paddy went really well against Scotland,”he said.
                    You thought he went really well against Scotland? Well, if that’s how you think that’s fair enough, you know. That’s your opinion, but I wouldn’t necessarily agree with going really well at Test level.”

                    He is talking about a young lad who is still far from established and clearly needs confidence to excel. I think he would have done well to leave this bit out. It is not at all important in the context of him and Deckie or the story he was telling.

                    This kid is only starting out. Maybe shows ROG has soem way to go before he is ready to be a Head Coach IMHO.

                    Comment


                      No offence to ROG (and indeed me being an idiot I bought it) but his last book was dire. As were the autobiographies of DOC, Foley, BOD, Jackman, etc. Awful stuff.

                      If you want to read a good book on Irish rugby, try From There to Here, Irish Rugby, by Brendan Fanning. Informative and good stories. The players are cashing in (and why not) but the books are muck.

                      Comment


                        Originally posted by bosh12 View Post
                        No offence to ROG (and indeed me being an idiot I bought it) but his last book was dire. As were the autobiographies of DOC, Foley, BOD, Jackman, etc. Awful stuff.

                        If you want to read a good book on Irish rugby, try From There to Here, Irish Rugby, by Brendan Fanning. Informative and good stories. The players are cashing in (and why not) but the books are muck.

                        I bought Donnacha's book in that Dealz place, got it for 1.50 so I'd say it was worth it !

                        Didn't like Fannings campaign against Kidney so won't be buying anything by him.

                        Comment


                          Wouldn't be arsed reading any of them
                          My computer thinks I'm gay
                          What's the difference anyway
                          When all the people do all day
                          Is stare into a phone

                          Comment


                            ROG on getting the call from DK on being dropped when he was out with his wife and kids, and this really is a classic quote, "the Gruffalo's child will never be the same again."

                            Puts a lot of perspective on what was a very big milestone in his rugby career.

                            Comment


                              Read 'Rucks, Mauls & Gaelic Footballs' by Moss Keane, now that's a book worth reading, guaranteed a giggle every page turn.
                              ____________________________________________
                              Munster were great when they were Munster.

                              alas they are just north munster now.......
                              ____________________________________________

                              Comment


                                I'll second that, a good read.
                                Tis but a scratch.

                                Comment

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