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'He didn't have the class to apologise'

By Ian Cameron
Ronan O'Gara, Head Coach of La Rochelle, looks on in the warm ups prior to the Heineken Champions Cup Final match between Leinster Rugby and Stade Rochelais at Aviva Stadium on May 20, 2023 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

La Rochelle boss Ronan O’Gara has spoken out after an unsavoury incident in the Top 14 saw him shoved on the sideline by Clermont’s flyhalf.


The game took a sour turn as Argentine fly-half Benjamin Urdapilleta clashed with  O’Gara on the sideline as he attempted to retrieve a ball that has been kicked into touch in the 57th minute.

With La Rochelle narrowly leading 10-8. Urdapilleta, eager to play quickly, attempted to retrieve the ball from out of bounds, leading to a confrontation with O’Gara. Urdapilleta accused O’Gara of obstructing a potential Clermont quick lineout, sparking a scuffle between the pair.

Referee Luc Ramos penalized Urdapilleta with a simple penalty, which proved decisive as Clermont secured a 11-1o victory.

“With adrenaline, I sometimes have some excesses,” said Urdapilleta after the game. “He [Ronan O’Gara] is clever, I think he did it on purpose. ‘to prevent us receiving the ball. At the time of the action, we were behind in the score so it was complicated. But that’s sport, it can happen. Once the match is over, we forget.


O’Gara’s response came during a press conference, where he expressed his disappointment at the situation.

“A little shocked” said O’Gara of the incident. “He wanted to play quickly so it happens, but I was in my zone. He pushed me twice, right? It’s weird… I know I’m no angel, but there’s respect, and tonight I think we crossed the line.”


“It has no place in our sport. But a card? It’s not possible either, because it’s for the players against the players, not between the players and the staff.”

“It’s a disappointment, he didn’t have the class to apologise. I understand, he’s frustrated because he won’t be playing in the World Cup. That’s how it is.”


England women’s forward Rocky Clark wrote on X: “I’ve never seen anything so bizarre, no idea how Ronan O’Gara kept his cool, I’m not so sure I’d be that calm.”

It’s the latest sideline incident involving O’Gara, who has found himself in hot water in France on a number of occasions.


In November of last year he was was sanctioned with a ten-week suspension as well as a fine of €20,000, of which €5,000 was suspended, on the grounds of an ‘attack on the best interests of rugby’ following one such incident.

Two months before that incident 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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