Despite being two of the most talented out-halves in the world of rugby, Ronan O’Gara and Johnny Sexton haven’t exactly always seen eye to eye. Their ability has constantly left the two in rivalry for that infamous green jersey.
As it so often does with rivalries, the two soon started to appreciate one another as much as they did compete. And as their careers progressed, so did their mutual respect for each other. They both grew to appreciate the skill the other one possessed.
O’Gara and Sexton actually crossed paths sooner than many had anticipated. O’Gara’s retirement and Sexton having joined French Rugby Union club, Racing 92 meant were forced to work together in unlikely circumstances.
Whilst O’Gara was at the club serving as a defensive coach, Sexton was there as a fly-half. This unorthodox meeting signalled the start of a surprising but ultimately close friendship between the two.
The two shared that player/coach bond for just two years before Sexton moved to Leinster. However, the transfer did not affect the strong relationship that the two had built.
On the news that O’Gara was leaving to go to New Zealand, Sexton took his family with him on an epic 650km round trip just to shake the hands of the player he has rivalled, respected, admired and finally befriended.
In a touching statement on Twitter last night, O’Gara praised the talent and attitude of his friend, Sexton.
In a quite short but moving couple of tweets, O’Gara referred to Sexton as a ‘champ’. He also inferred that there would be no rugby player more deserving of the World Player of the Year Award this year.
He said. “The man in line to win WPOTY tomorrow night deserves it not only for his on field qualities but also for his off field. Never had it easy, played AIL for years, nearly lost his Leinster contract but kept persevering. A brilliant player, but a better person with great values.”
As it stands, Sexton is in good stead to win the prestigious award after an overwhelmingly impressive year for Leinster and Ireland where he serves as captain and vice-captain respectively.