Champions Cup: Leinster dismiss Ronan O’Gara’s harder ‘slog’ claims with the ‘bloody difficult teams’ in the URC

Jared Wright
Leinster coach Robin McBryde has taken exception to Ronan O’Gara’s comments likening the Irish side’s month to La Rochelle’s entire season.

Leinster coach Robin McBryde has taken exception to Ronan O’Gara’s comments likening the Irish side’s month to La Rochelle’s entire season.

La Rochelle booked their place in the Champions Cup final with a 47-28 victory over Exeter Chiefs over the weekend, and they will now face Leinster on May 20.

After the match, O’Gara took the opportunity to speak of the demands of the Top 14, likening the entire season to Leinster’s final month.

‘It’s like a mini-World Cup’

The Irish side face the Sharks in United Rugby Championship (URC) quarter-final on Saturday before playing a possible semi-final ahead of the Champions Cup showpiece event.

“You’d find this hard in your mindset, but the month Leinster have this month, we have it every month. I think you need to think about that a little bit,” O’Gara told BT Sport.

“It is 10 months of a slog. I have to get a team for Toulon; we play Montpellier, then we play Leinster.”

McBryde took exception to the La Rochelle boss’ comments and emphasised the value the South African teams have had on the URC.

“I don’t necessarily agree with what he said with regards to them playing big game after big game,” said McBryde.

“We’re in the same situation playing big game after big game. It’s like a mini-World Cup towards the end of the year.

“If we can win on Saturday, it is another big game. The URC is very tough; you know what I mean? You’ve got the South African teams who are bringing everything with them now.

“In their first season, they were just finding things out. They’ve got a grasp of it now, and they’re bloody difficult teams to play against, and they’ve raised the standard, profile, everything. So, I wouldn’t say we’d have it easy in any way, shape or form. It has been a tough slog.

“We were disappointed with the loss to La Rochelle in the final (last season), and then the rebound off that against Glasgow was great. But then we were found wanting against the Bulls. That’s what is foremost in my mind anyway.

Taking lessons from last season

“Now that we’re here, we just have to finish things off. We just fell short, and we have to put the Champions Cup to one side now. The game against [Sharks] earlier in the season was very tough.”

Looking ahead to the quarter-final against the Sharks, McBryde said the squad are wary of what happened last season, when they lost to the Bulls in the semi-final, and said that they would not make the same mistakes.

“The Bulls stayed here all week after playing up in Belfast last year, and when we reflected on some of the lessons we can learn from selection,” he explained.

“Did we get it right? Should we have changed more? The build-up? We’ve got to learn those lessons. It’s one thing we can’t be caught on. Emotionally, it’s going to be tough to get us up, but we’ve got to get back up. It’s as simple as that,

“There are no excuses. We won’t be caught out again. I think it will be a tough challenge on Saturday, going from the Champions Cup to the URC, but the level of opposition is going to be equally as tough a match.

“When you look at our game against them at the start of the year, it was a close enough affair, a very physical affair, and we’re not expecting anything less on Saturday.”

READ MORE: Champions Cup Team of the Week: Finalists Leinster and La Rochelle dominate the line-up