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Huge ban, fine for O'Gara after 'attack on best interests of rugby'

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Title-winning La Rochelle coach Ronan O’Gara has been heavily sanctioned by officials in France following his latest Top 14 disciplinary hearing. The Irishman, who guided the French club to Heineken Champions Cup glory last May in Marseille, had been in disciplinary trouble before on a number of occasions but Ligue National de Rugby appear to have finally lost their patience and have now thrown the book at him.

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His latest case was even referred to the LNR president and FFR secretary general and having appeared at a hearing following his return to France after his week co-coaching the Barbarians versus the All Blacks XV in London, an LNR statement read: “Ronan O’Gara was sanctioned with a ten-week suspension as well as a fine of €20,000, of which €5,000 was accompanied by a suspended sentence on the grounds of an ‘attack on the best interests of rugby’…

“…and more particularly for ‘any breach by a person referred to in article 714, of honour or probity, any conduct violent or abusive or defamatory remarks by a person referred to in article 714 with regard to any failure to respect the duty of confidentiality, as well as any deliberate violation of the federal regulations or general regulations of the LNR or conduct likely to infringe to the image, reputation or interests of rugby or its bodies, any breach of ethics and sports ethics, any non-compliance with a decision pronounced by a disciplinary body of the LNR’.

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“Consequently, O’Gara will be requalified on January 30, 2023. Under article 65 of the LNR’s general regulations, La Rochelle were sanctioned with a fine of €20,000 including €5,000 suspended. These decisions are subject to appeal before the FFR appeals committee within seven days from the notification of the full reasoned decision.”

It was only two months ago when O’Gara was banned from the matchday touchline for six weeks after facing the charge of disrespecting a match official following the September 10 La Rochelle win at Lyon.

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O’Gara’s numerous previous run-ins with the French disciplinary process were a factor at that hearing as his case was given a six-week entry point when it came to punishment and the suspension was initially increased to eight due to his previous disciplinary record before being reduced back to six when mitigating factors were taken into account. His club were also fined €10,000.

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It was while in London a fortnight ago that La Rochelle boss O’Gara reiterated his ambition to coach England once Eddie Jones finishes up in the position following the end of the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France. “Yeah, of course, I would be (interested),” he said. “It’s a huge job.

“There’s probably a lot involved with it and you’d have to be very firm with what your criteria are and what your role is. When you strip it all back, essentially you want to be winning games, but you need a strong support network around you to be put in that position. I would be thorough in my approach, in terms of what country you’d like to coach. There are a handful that jump out straight away…”

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