Ronan O'Gara's noble defence of Johnny Sexton misses crucial point
This is not a question of character. It is about the actions of a player that overstepped the mark, twice.
Ronan O'Gara and Johnny Sexton have enjoyed plenty of duels, over the years, and we had a case of the Munster man looking out for his old No.10 rival, this week.
Ahead of his side's Top 14 Final against Toulouse, which they lost in heartbreaking fashion, La Rochelle head coach O'Gara made a regular appearance on Off The Ball to talk rugby. With stories about a potential Sexton ban, after he was sent a misconduct letter by the EPCR, O'Gara rode to Sexton's defence.
Crucially, though, he missed a key point.
"Johnny's a competitor, a great guy, there shouldn't be a ban for Johnny. There shouldn't be [a ban]. I'd be strong in that.
"I didn't see any videos but I know the character very well, an insane competitor, maybe his temper flared over for a second or two but the guy is a role model in Irish rugby, in what he has done, I think people need to move on with it."
"It's something that's been completely stirred up depending on different people's agendas," he added.
O'Gara scuttled his argument almost immediately but admitting he had not seen any of the footage of Sexton confronting Jaco Peyper and his fellow match officials after the Champions Cup final. The first moment is within this City AM article and the second is here:
After the whistle went Sexton changes direction to approach the refereeing group. Dicko sees him coming and tries to block him but Johny won't be stopped from having at least a say pic.twitter.com/ij6Sl8J4Fl
— Province Fan (@ProvinceFan) May 29, 2023
Former Leinster teammate stands up for Johnny Sexton
Injured and dressed in a team suit for the Champions Cup final, which Leinster lost to O'Gara's La Rochelle, Johnny Sexton had three ill-advised moments on the day.
He was one of many, from both clubs, involved in a half-time fracas in the tunnel then twice went to speak with South African referee Jaco Peyper after the game. On both occasions, linesman Karl Dickson ushered him away. The EPCR investigated the matter and one of the match officials is said to have described Sexton's behaviour as "intimidating". Added up, the trio of incidents don't look great.
While former Munster and Ireland flanker Alan Quinlan believes there will be some sort of sanction handed down to the 37-year-old, Bernard Jackman said speculation of 12- or 24-week bans was "outlandish".
The former Leinster and Ireland hooker told RTE Radio, "I wouldn't say there's any risk of him not being able to play in the World Cup.
"If there is going to be a disciplinary [action] I would say it'd be a fine or maybe a small suspension, maybe putting him out of warm-up games. But I think this will go away quite quickly."
WATCH HOUSE OF RUGBY HERE:
- Probables vs. Possibles: We've selected two scarily good XVs for Ireland's World Cup
- "We're making all these comparisons to Jack Crowley and ROG, but he's more like Johnny Sexton"
- Josh van der Flier flourishing under added hype and expectation was one of the season's best stories
- Brian O'Driscoll believes Paul O'Connell, not Ronan O'Gara, will coach Ireland next
- The Christmas chat with "straight-shooter" ROG that got Donnacha Ryan into coaching