Ronan O’Gara hits back over his latest Top 14 disciplinary summons
Ronan O’Gara has hit out at his latest disciplinary hearing summons in France. The La Rochelle boss is due to appear before a committee next Wednesday, four days before his club hosts Irish rivals Leinster in the opening round of the Investec Champions Cup.
It will be the latest in a long line of appearances the Irishman has made due to incidents in the Top 14. However, while he has previously held his hand up in the past over his behaviour, he is flabbergasted that he has a case to answer following the half-time query he made of the officials during last Sunday’s defeat at Racing.
Writing in his weekly Irish Examiner column, O’Gara explained: “There were a few words exchanged with the fourth and fifth referees at half-time regarding the non-awarding of a penalty try to La Rochelle by referee Adrien Descottes.
“I have been subpoenaed for what is referred to as bad behaviour. If all the coaches in the Top 14 were accused of bad behaviour every time they questioned or commented on a wrong decision, they wouldn’t have time to do anything else in the week.”
O’Gara alleged that he gets treated differently by the Top 14 administrators because he is Irish. “Christophe Urios (of Clermont) has publicly criticised the referees, but he is not an Irish coach who is making his way in France,” he suggested.
“When there is guilt, you have to acknowledge it, as I have done in the past. There have been times when I have questioned decisions and expressed my frustration…
“Certainly, there is a sense here, without a hint of paranoia, that selective treatment is a concern. Others appear to be able to comment on officialdom with impunity, yet I look sideways at someone and I am up before a hearing committee again.”
Aside from the fuss of his latest disciplinary, O’Gara intriguingly addressed the issue of his team’s inconsistent form after star players were away at the Rugby World Cup. They have won just three of their eight Top 14 matches and are in 11th place ahead of Saturday’s game versus Perpignan.
“It’s not a crisis but against Perpignan, it’s a must-win. We have to be realistic, if we lose at home to Perpignan, it’s unlikely we’ll beat Leinster a week later,” he reckoned. “It’s my first post-World Cup campaign as head coach and I haven’t fully grasped the huge hangover that was the World Cup.
“The number of French players who dreamed that France was going to become world champions and were eliminated in the quarter-finals. It’s a long psychological road to get back to level and face the hard work of the Top 14. I can see guys thinking, ‘Wow, it’s harder than I thought it would be to get back to the level. How am I going to do it?’”
- Click here to read the Ronan O’Gara Irish Examiner column