Ronan O’Gara’s dig at Leinster fans’ boos after ‘shameful’ Champions Cup loss

Jared Wright
La Rochelle Head Coach Ronan O'Gara with the ball during the Investec Champions Cup, Quarter-final match between Leinster Rugby and Stade Rochelais at Aviva Stadium in Dublin

The Stade Rochelais Head Coach Ronan O'Gara.

Former Ireland fly-half and current La Rochelle boss Ronan O’Gara has responded to the “resounding boos” he received during the Investec Champions Cup quarter-final clash against Leinster.

The 47-year-old played in 123 Tests for Ireland and was his country’s top points-scorer until recently when Johnny Sexton overtook him.

However, O’Gara was never a popular figure amongst the Leinster fans during his playing days and that relationship has only deteriorated since his move into coaching and his return to Europe after his stint with the Crusaders in New Zealand.

He guided La Rochelle to back-to-back Investec Champions Cup titles, defeating Leinster in the final of both competitions. He wouldn’t have expected a warm welcome when the defending champions headed to the Aviva Stadium for the quarter-final clash.

Leinster avenged their back-to-back final defeats by claiming an emphatic 40-13 victory over La Rochelle, and during the match, whenever O’Gara was shown on the big screens, it was met by boos from the Leinster fans.

Leinster jeers

The ex-fly-half says that he is “not sensitive” to the jeers and took a snide swipe at the Leinster fans in discussing what unfolded.

While there is no love lost between O’Gara and Leinster, Munster fans still back their legendary fly-half and have been known to support the French side even against their fellow Irish teams – including one of the La Rochelle boss’ mates.

“The thumbs up was great; it was actually one of my best friends who was at the ground – he is a Cork guy who has lived in Dublin all his life,” O’Gara explained on Off the Ball.

“He was in a La Rochelle jersey and I hadn’t seen him in a while, but it was just great, when you’re getting a battering just to see one of your buddies there and I lost concentration for a few seconds.”

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Addressing the jeers, O’Gara added that he took it as a compliment.

“There wasn’t a couple of boos there were resounding boos but that’s the ultimate compliment,” he said.

“Let’s not get sensitive about this, this is what happens when you’re playing at the top level, coaching a French team against an Irish team, against a team that we have created an enormous amount to hurt in the last number of years. So that’s the minimum.

“It’s ok, that’s what happens. I’m not, sensitive about that. I have a huge amount of time for their players and their coaching group and I was in their dressing room afterwards. They’re a really good group.

“Two into one doesn’t go, you are trying to win, they’re trying to win and they were better than us this time.”

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Shameful loss

While O’Gara was in a more upbeat mood when speaking to Off The Ball, he did not hold back when speaking to French media and dissected the loss to Leinster, a result he dubbed as “shameful”.

“I’m still digesting it but it’s getting worse and worse, day by day. I am supported by my deputies, I am completely taken by the defeat. Or rather the way (we lost),” he said.

“This falls into the shameful category. I am very disturbed. It was a dark day for the club and for me. I have to take responsibility for it.

“But it’s not the players, it’s me. They play according to my vision of things. So it’s my fault and it weighs heavily on me. I have to look in the mirror and come back stronger.”

He added: “Great players and leaders cannot miss this opportunity and give away the match two minutes after returning from the locker room, it is not possible. We didn’t respect the jersey.

“I imagined a hundred results when I went jogging on Saturday morning in Dublin but I never thought of a 40-13! Maybe my expectations are too high? When you get eliminated like that as a double European champion, you lose a lot of respect.”

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