The Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR) issued a statement on Wednesday evening in which it revealed that La Rochelle head coach Ronan O’Gara has been suspended for 10 weeks.
According to the LNR statement, the former Ireland and Munster fly-half received the suspension for “harming the best interests of rugby”.
Although the statement did not indicate when the incident occurred, the only match which O’Gara has coached since completing a previous six-week ban was a Top 14 encounter against Brive on November 5.
On this latest occasion, O’Gara faced a disciplinary panel that, unusually, consisted of representatives of both the LNR and the French Rugby Federation (FFR). The 45-year-old was cited for remarks criticising the refereeing and the organisation of the championship.
The sanction is set to last until January 30 and O’Gara will be unavailable for La Rochelle’s upcoming Champions Cup pool games against Northampton Saints and Ulster.
Hit with hefty fine as well
He also received a 15,000 euros (£12,925) fine with a further 5,000 euros suspended. He can appeal the disciplinary’s findings.
The latest suspension is O’Gara’s fourth in a year. He was initially banned for two weeks in November 21 for “showing disrespect to the authority of an official”, during La Rochelle’s clash with Toulon.
Following that, he received a two-week suspension in April for “indiscipline” and “challenging the decisions of officials” in a match against Racing 92, although that did not stop O’Gara from leading La Rochelle to the European Champions Cup title.
In September, O’Gara was also suspended for six weeks for a “lack of respect” and “action against an official” at Lyon.