Select Edition

Northern Northern
Southern Southern
Global Global

Ronan O'Gara on Leinster’s ‘comfort zone’ contributing to yet another final loss

Ronan O'Gara and Leo Cullen share a joke pre-game (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

With a third European Champions Cup final loss in a row, Leinster now have the unenviable task of self-reflecting on what went wrong and why they are struggling to get over the line when it comes to the big moments.


Scores were tied 15-15 at full time in London but Toulouse scored first in the first period of extra time and then, while masterfully marshalled by the brilliant Antoine Dupont, they never looked liked losing and ultimately claimed another famous title with the 31-22 victory at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Dupont is being hailed as the best player of a generation due to his massive impact on the game in both attack and defence.

Video Spacer

The concern now for Leinster is that the last time they lifted the trophy was in the 2017-2018 season and now have to contend with yet another disappointing loss on the big stage.

La Rochelle head coach Ronan O’Gara has reflected on the third-consecutive loss, citing their lack of away form as a possible factor.

“When you play the best Top 14 team and you play them in a neutral venue… Leinster, so many of their games are either at home or in the Aviva,” he told Off The Ball.

“They might play a big game or two a year out of that, which doesn’t help them at all, I don’t think, when it comes to the really tough games.


“They have enough class for all those games, it’s just when it comes to a team that are as good as them, how do they continuously learn from coming up short?

O’Gara also feels that tactics, perhaps with the strong influence of former Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber, are what prevented them from making more inroads on attack.

“I suppose maybe the fact that Leinster weren’t ‘on’ in attack and the fact that maybe – as all great teams do – they build their form enough for winning on a defence, and you can see that Leinster have given a lot of time to that.

“With the, whatever, 160 minutes of training time during the week, what are you prioritising? What are you going after?


“And to say you’re actually going after everything, it doesn’t work like that, because it’s DNA of South Africa, whose their coach – Nienaber – of course you respect this guy, he comes in, it’s kick pressure and it’s tackle for your life and defend for your family, so that’s what they did.

Match Summary

Penalty Goals
Drop Goals
Line Breaks
Turnovers Lost
Turnovers Won

On the question of there being a danger that three final losses in a row might make it really difficult to bounce back from.

“You have to have absolute, huge admiration for getting to three finals. The weak people would be inclined to go “Well they bottle it, they can’t get over the line”. I wouldn’t give that view. I think they’re the most consistent team. They also have the most consistent resources in the fact that a lot of them play for Ireland and there’s such cohesion in that team that there is a right to ask the question, ‘Why aren’t they getting over the line?’.

“They’re bringing in Jordie Barrett and RG Snyman, two world class players which will make them even harder to beat. I would be a firm believer in that if you keep knocking at the door and keep your values right and keep showing up, you’ll kick the door down. And I think this team is very close.

“But there is also a fear that a man, or a woman, can only take so much. I would be very, very low today if I was involved in that group who had gone to three finals, because losing in a final is ten times the hurt of losing in a quarter or a semi, because you’re all in.

“But if you multiply that season by season, it’s beyond thinkable.”



Join free



Trending on RugbyPass


Roger 22 days ago

There were several instances where the defensive strategy of kicking for 3 points as opposed to the attacking strategy of doing a lineout-rolling maul were not taken. It was a lack of attack that was the problem. It was knowing how to attack.

If you think of the World Cup Semi Final and Final last year, had the Springboks tried some rolling mauls for points it might not have paid off. But we see and know from traditional RWC Playoffs the best defense is matched by good goal kicking.
Win penalties, kick for poles. It's amazing how much can be accumulated through kicks.

So no I wouldn't blame Nienaber for that. Best defense in the competition is what most often wins high stake play-off games.
It was those fine margin decisions. “Kick for goal, kick to the corner?”
If they of their three attempts at tries had opted for one less corner and one more goal kick, that would have got them over the line.

john 23 days ago

Leinster went to corner wher they should have taken, a kick for 3 points they left 12 point behind in the first half. point make prizes

Jeff 23 days ago

Leinster have regressed since Nienaber joined.

Flankly 23 days ago

Nienaber said it would take time. Of course it would.

They will sharpen up their attack, especially transition attack from their much more aggressive defence. The tries will come and the wins will come. I would not bet against Leinster next season.

Ed the Duck 23 days ago

O’Driscoll made exactly the same point on how Leinster have lost an edge in attack since Lancaster left and being cosseted in the Aviva undoubtedly leaves them short of experience travelling against the very best.

However massive credit has to go to Matt Carley, he was superb. Leinster just didn’t benefit from the marginal calls that consistently go their way. It was a class performance to watch from both teams and the ref!

Load More Comments

Join free and tell us what you really think!

Sign up for free

Latest Features

Comments on RugbyPass

FEATURE Freddie Steward: 'I wouldn’t say I've had it easy' Freddie Steward: 'I wouldn’t say I've had it easy'