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O’Callaghan: ROG Set The Standard

O’Callaghan: ROG Set The Standard

The news today that Ronan O’Gara’s long and distinguished playing time is over brings to a close what was, by any standards, a remarkable career.

It began in the professional sense back in August 1997 and once Ronan O’Gara established himself as Munster’s starting number 10 at the beginning of the 1999/00 season, his was probably the first name pencilled in on selection sheets ever since.

The Heineken Cup final of 2000 catapulted him onto centre stage and he played the leading role subsequently on many occasions. And he did so with aplomb for Munster and Ireland, not just creating records but establishing ones that will never be surpassed.

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The 36-year-old could never be accused of being ‘shy and retiring’, preferring to shoot from the hip on-field and from the lip off it when he deemed it necessary.

He caused a huge furore in the run-up to the 2006 Heineken Cup opener against Leicester Tigers with controversial remarks about the standard of English club rugby and then backed it up by orchestrating the win, capped off by his fantastic 52-metre penalty on the stroke of full-time for a 21-19 victory.

His team-mate that day and scorer of a try, Donncha O’Callaghan, O’Gara’s room-mate so many times with Munster and Ireland had this to say: “To gauge the impact this (retirement) will have you have to understand the phenomenal type of character he is.

“Every day he turns up for training, he brings a standard, sets that standard and never drops it an inch. And expects no less from anyone else no matter whether that’s with Munster, Ireland, the Lions, makes no difference to him.

“There are so many players, and I include myself top of that list, who are so much better players for being around him.”

Munster Rugby Chief Executive Garrett Fitzgerald commented: “In wishing Ronan the very best in the future, I’d like to acknowledge the immense contribution he has made to Munster Rugby and indeed rugby in general in Ireland over the course of what has been a fabulous career.

“The longevity of that career is a testimony to his dedication, commitment and professionalism and a marvellous example to others.”

Munster’s most decorated player, O’Gara was capped 240 times at senior level for the province. He steered Munster to Irish Interprovincial, Celtic League, Celtic Cup and Heineken Cup titles in which time he scored a record 2,625 points.

His incredible points haul includes 1,365 Heineken Cup points – an all-time leading mark in the tournament that is unlikely to be surpassed.