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Ronan O’Gara hits back over his latest Top 14 disciplinary summons

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Xavier Leoty/AFP via Getty Images)

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.

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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.

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“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.

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“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.”

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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
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finn 5 hours ago
Why the world needs a reverse Lions tour

I think there’s a lot of reasons this wouldn’t work, but if we’re just proposing fun things how about a “World Series” held the june/july following a world cup. The teams competing each four years would be: the current world champions The Pacific Islands The British & Irish Lions The World XV Barbarians FC to ensure all teams are fairly evenly matched, the current world champions would name their squad first; then The Pacific Islands would name next, and would be able to select any pacific qualified players not selected by the world champions, including players already “captured” by non-pacific nations who would otherwise have been eligible for selection (eg. Bundee Aki); the Lions would select next; and then The World XV and Barbarians FC would be left to fight over anyone not selected. Some people will point out that 5 teams is too many for a mid-year round robin, particularly as it would be nice to have a final as well; and they would be right! But because we’re just having fun here we’re going to innovate an entirely new format for rugby, where the round robin is played in one stadium over the course of one day, with each game lasting just 40 minutes with no half time or change of ends. The round robin decides the seedings for the knockouts, which are contested by all 5 teams in one stadium over the course of one day, according to the following schedule: Knockout Round 1: seed 5 v seed 4 (contested over 1 half of indetermined length, finishing when one team reaches 7 points) ~ 10 minute break ~ Quarter Final: winner of Round 1 v seed 3 (contested over 1 half of indetermined length, finishing when one team reaches 7 points) ~ 10 minute break ~ Semi Final: winner of Quarter Final v seed 2 (contested over 1 half of indetermined length, finishing when one team reaches 7 points) ~ 10 minute break ~ Final: winner of Semi Final v seed 1 (played as a standard 80 minute rugby match) for the round robin, teams would name a 15 man starting lineup and a 16 man bench. Substitutions during games can only be made for injuries, but any number of substitutions can be made between games. The same rules apply for the finals, except that we return to having a regular 8 man bench, and would allow substitutions as normal during the 80 minute final.

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