Wallabies star Will Skelton praised for welfare-first sportsmanship in European final
An act of selfless sportsmanship by Wallabies star Will Skelton concerning the welfare of Leinster’s lock James Ryan has been praised during La Rochelle’s shock final win.
Skelton had been driven backward by Ryan in a tackle before the Irishman took an accidental knock by another La Rochelle player.
The Australian noticed something not quite right with Ryan and immediately called on referee Jaco Peyper to stop play.
Skelton hovering over a vulnerable James Ryan looking for Peyper’s attention after the knock to the head 🤌🏻 #LEIvLAR pic.twitter.com/faCFD5pN1m
— Kenneth Hyland (@kennethphyland) May 20, 2023
Ryan left the field in the 29th minute and did not return which was a pivotal turning point for Leinster while Skelton turned in a mammoth performance to lift La Rochelle to victory.
The giant second-row Skelton helped inspire his French club to overhaul home-based Leinster – and a 17-0 deficit – to win their final 27-26 at Lansdowne Road on Saturday.
He made 14 carries and produced three offloads in an 80-minute performance as his La Rochelle side pulled off one of the great European Champions Cup final comebacks.
La Rochelle didn’t lead until eight minutes to go, after Antoine Hastoy coolly converted Georges-Henri Colombe’s try off a close-in ruck.
Yellow cards reduced both sides to 14 men. La Rochelle were desperately defending their tryline in the 79th minute when Leinster’s Austraian-born Michael Ala’alatoa charged into the head of Colombe in a ruck and was sent off while the Frenchman was carried off.
The French visitors cleared their line and moments later were celebrating their European crown in front of a stunned Leinster and their supporters.
La Rochelle also overcame Leinster in a come-from-behind win in the final last year for their first title, but not from as deep a hole as on Saturday.
“They said we couldn’t do it, come to Leinster and win, but we did,” Skelton beamed.
“Leinster are a world-class team and we had to dig deep. At 17-0 down, we still had the belief.”
La Rochelle’s Irish coach Ronan O’Gara emphasised to his team at halftime how Leinster had lost their previous two finals.
“23-14 felt like a great halftime result for us,” O’Gara said. “One of the staff reminded me we were minus eight in Marseille (last year) and today we were minus nine, so we built a little story about that to get the boys pumping.
“We had the internal energy and we had a great grip on the second half. We won the hard way which is very, very pleasing.”
– Additional reporting AAP
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Superb player and always a joy to watch.Go to comments
Sadly for Dweba his performance on the field was poor.Go to comments