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La Rochelle boss Ronan O'Gara booed at Aviva Stadium

By Ian Cameron
La Rochelle head coach Ronan O'Gara before the Investec Champions Cup quarter-final match between Leinster and La Rochelle at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. (Photo By Sam Barnes/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Once hailed as a hero at Lansdowne Road, Ronan O’Gara faced a harsh reception during his side’s quarterfinal loss in the Investec Champions Cup at Aviva Stadium.

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Every time O’Gara was shown on the big screen, boos echoed around a soldout Aviva Stadium, marking a stark shift from his celebrated past as a once-celebrated Ireland flyhalf.

With off-field dramas in last year’s Champions Cup final between O’Gara and a number of Leinster players and staff, it was hardly surprising that the Cork native was very much the pantomime villain for a boisterous Leinster crowd, who had packed HQ to capacity.

Booing aside, it would prove a day to forget for O’Gara, whose side ultimately lost convincingly 40-13 to a pumped-up Leinster team, seemingly hell-bent on battering their opposition. The home side delivered a convincing victory to exorcise the ghosts of two Champions Cup final defeats to the same side.

“It’s clear to anyone with a bit of cop on that the team in blue were the better side,” said O’Gara in the post-match press conference. “The better team won.”

Although O’Gara alluded to his side being ‘away for 13 days’, he refused to use it as an excuse.

Ronan O'Gara
La Rochelle head coach Ronan O’Gara checks the pitch at half-time of the Investec Champions Cup quarter-final match between Leinster and La Rochelle at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. (Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Indeed O’Gara’s decision to bring his side to Cork in the days preceding this evening’s hammering – heralded as a masterstroke of pre-match gamesmanship by some – now looks, if anything, a little questionable. Even before the game the former Munster playmaker defended claims it was a ‘holiday’, but either way it doesn’t look so smart after what was a one-sided battering to their bitter rivals.

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And there wasn’t much love for O’Gara on social media either.

One poster on X alluded to controversial comments O’Gara made nine years ago (branded misogynistic my some) which have resurfaced this week in the lead-up to the fixture: “Now as a woman I may not truly understand this rugby score, it being so complex, but it seems to my simple mind that Leinster thrashed Ronan O’Gara’s La Rochelle.”

Another user took the opportunity to take a pop at the Munster legend, who has been rightly lauded for coaching feats at La Rochelle to date. “The best thing about this Leinster win today is maybe the Irish media will stop treating Ronan O’Gara as some sort of coaching demigod who everything he does is a genius move.”

Another claimed O’Gara needed to learn from the defeat. “This game is emblematic of La Rochelle this season. There’s been some good and a lot of bad. I hope Ronan O’Gara shows some maturity and takes this loss on the chin. He likes to act like a petulant child when he doesn’t get his way.”

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Abe 1 hours ago
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Not a fan of your picks. McReight is good at club level but he is too small for international level and has consistently disappointed there. Better to go for larger guys. Kemeney, Valentini, Hooper, Leota, Samu, Swinton, etc. Aalatoa and Nonga are woeful scrummagers and don’t offer much around the field. Wallabies will not win if the scrum falls to pieces. The fact that Faamissli hasn’t been developed is a tragedy. Need a scrum that doesn’t give away penalties. So looks like a Talakai maybe instead. Best scrummagers need to be selected. McDermott runs the ball too much and doesn’t fit into a structured attack like Schmidts. Gets isolated too often. Ok off the bench late but not for 60 mins. Goal kicking has to be one of the top 3 points for a 10 so that does in Gordon and O’Connor. Be better off going for lynagh on that front. Donaldson and Noah seem to be doing best of the established names. QC a better mentor type guy than OConnor as well if he’s playing. Daugunu has been the most consistent 13 and breaks the line a lot so must be in the squad. Joost has also been good. Richie Arnold playing well for Toulouse and is a preeminent lineout jumper so needs to be in. Latu also playing well for La Rochelle and is better scrummager than the Aussie choices so should be in. The big guy at the Tahs Amataroso I think it is needs to be developed as well. Otherwise the team will be too small. Hodge is a better choice at fullback than Wright. Latter makes too many mistakes. Not sure if Hodge available.

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Turlough 6 hours ago
Four Leinster talking points after latest Champions Cup final loss

First of all: hats off to Toulouse an outstanding performance. Duponts kicking was phenomenal. Twice he challenged Keenan with amazing clearances from his 22 in extra time. Result was territory deep in Leinster half in the early part of extra time which lead to 2 penalties and the game. Remember also his two 50:22s? Now to Willis/Dupont. ANY slight isolation by a Leinster player resulted in a turnover penalty. How many turnovers in the Toulouse 22? Leinster’s defense was immense, they had opportunities in attack but they honestly looked like they had not spent enough time passing the ball in the training in the weeks preceding the final. Game management was poor. Toulouse’s scrum had crumbled. At 15-15 Leinster had a scrum advantage in a position that would be kickable for a scrum penalty. Leinster played on and missed a long range drop goal. You MUST take the scrum surely? Win penalty and its a shot at goal to win with time up. No penalty and you can attack and drop goal whatever. The distance from sideline penalties from Byrne was shocking. If you are kicking the line you must get close to that 5 metre line. How many times were Leinster forced to maul from 10-15 metres? Toulouse KNEW Leinster was going to kick and maul and clearly spent considerable training time neutralizing thuis threat. The maul was starting too far out, Toulouse were able to stop the heart of the drive. You must change tack and start kicking for goals. That said it always felt like Toulouse were the potent team on the day with Leinster under pressure and chasing. Even with their backline completely disrupted, Toulouse found a way. 9 Wins in their last 9 finals. Leinster will be there next year. But so will Toulouse/Northhampton etc. A great era of club rugby.

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