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11th Jun 2023

Ronan O’Gara coach’s box comments picked up by French journalist during La Rochelle win

Patrick McCarry

Ronan O'Gara

Living and breathing every moment.

One French reporter got much more than he bargained for as he took his seat for Saturday’s Top 14 semi-final between the La Rochelle side of Ronan O’Gara and Union Bordeaux-Begles.

The Top 14 semis were contested at Anoeta Stadium in San Sebastian, Spain, over the weekend. Toulouse doled out a record last four beating (41-14) to see off Racing, before La Rochelle proved too much for UBB.

Dillyn Leyds, Pierre Bourgarit and Paul Boudehent all scored first half tries for the reigning Champions Cup kingpins, leading to a 21-3 advantage at the break. Bordeaux did pull back a converted try and penalty, in the second half, but an Antoine Halstoy penalty put Stade Rochelais out of sight.

O’Gara came down to the sideline for the latter stages of the game but was situated in the coaches’ boxes for the first half. Le Figaro reporter Arnaud Coudry was seated in the row right in front of that La Rochelle box and got an earful from the Munster and Ireland legend.

Ronan O'GaraRonan O’Gara (left) and again, pictured in the Anotea Stadium press box. (Credit: Getty & Arnaud Coudry)

‘The boiling Ronan O’Gara’

As temperatures were so high in San Sebastian for the Saturday afternoon encounter, there were water breaks permitted in each half during the La Rochelle vs. Bordeaux semi-final.

It also meant the windows and screens of the Stade Rochelais coach’s box were left wide open, giving reporter Arnaud Coudry a prime ticket to what he described as ‘The ROG Show’. We will let the man himself describe the experience:

‘Oddly enough, we found ourselves just below that of the Stade Rochelais, a few metres from the boiling Ronan O’Gara. He lives each moment of the match intensely, commenting on game and shouting his instructions to his players who, inevitably, hear nothing from down on the pitch. But it doesn’t matter to him, he lives his match thoroughly.

‘It is a show in its own right – a little painful for the eardrums, but hilarious. You hear ‘Jesus’, ‘Come On!’ and a lot of ‘F**k!’, and sometimes all three at the same time. The Irish coach is known to experience his team’s matches like this, with a (very) high sound level.’

Coudry has experienced the barks and cries of O’Gara on plenty of occasions before – when he was assistant coach at Racing, Yves-du-Manoir, and at the Stade Marcel-Deflandre in 2021 when the French side beat Leinster in the semi-finals of a stadium almost completely empty due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The reporter says it was ‘a delight’ to experience the ROG Show again but notes how he made his way pitch-side for the end-game so his players could really hear him.

Next up for Stade Rochelais and Ronan O’Gara is the Top 14 final against Toulouse from 8pm, on Saturday June 17, at Stade de France.

Although La Rochelle are two-time European champions, they have never won the Bouclier de Brennus.


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