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20th May 2023

“We were disrespected” – Controversy over coin toss as Ronan O’Gara weighs in

Patrick McCarry

Ronan O'Gara

An odd turn of events after La Rochelle best Leinster.

There was talk, post-match at Aviva Stadium, of Leinster captain James Ryan being disrespectful during the coin toss in the tunnel. Ronan O’Gara looked upon it as a wider issue if La Rochelle not being treated equally by officials and organisers in Dublin.

Ryan went to do the coin toss, ahead of the game, with La Rochelle captain Gregory Alldritt. While Ryan may have just rushed through the motions and not engaged with his opposite number, Sportsfile photos show there was a handshake and Ryan did lock eyes with Alldritt.

That is not what Alldritt or Ronan O’Gara, his coach, felt after the game. Despite winning 27-26 to leave Leinster dejected, La Rochelle had a bone to pick.

O'GaraTeam captains La Rochelle captain Grégory Alldritt, left, and Leinster captain James Ryan shake hands. (Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile)

Gregory Alldritt and Ronan O’Gara on coin toss

By the time Ronan O’Gara and Gregory Alldritt had made it to the press conference room, word had filtered out that there was bad blood over the pre-game coin toss.

“He [James Ryan] didn’t look me in the eye,” Alldritt said. “That should not be done. We were disrespected.”

As the above Sportsfile picture shows however, Ryan clearly did look Alldritt in the eye. Through a translator, Alldritt later clarified his comment by saying that his issue was with Ryan eyeballing him.

Alldritt turned up at the scheduled time for the coin flip and was said to be displeased at being made to wait around a couple of minutes by Ryan.

Asked for his take on the matter, O’Gara weighed in:

“I got word of it on the pitch… there was a little bit of that in terms of Leinster being the home team – accommodation for the families, post-match gigs. Leinster are seen as the home team. We’re here in Lansdowne and we can’t get a room in this place [a function room at Aviva Stadium].

“We’re seen as the little team but that is about to change,” O’Gara added.

The EPCR has confirmed that La Rochelle were offered a function room within Aviva Stadium for post-match formalities but it was not deemed big enough for what the French side wanted. As it, they opted to go next door to Lansdowne Rugby Club.

“There are a lot of values in this club, ” Alldritt added, “and respect is one.”

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