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30th Apr 2023

Ronan O’Gara corrects English presenter’s comment about Leinster

Patrick McCarry

Ronan O'Gara

Little competition called the United Rugby Championship has reached the knock-out stages.

Ronan O’Gara mused in his post-match chat with BT Sport that, in his opinion, La Rochelle have it much tougher, over the course of a season, than Leinster.

When BT Sport presenter Martin Bayfield weighed in with his take on matters, the former Munster 10 felt the need to set him straight on a couple of facts.

La Rochelle wiped the Champions Cup floor with Exeter Chiefs at Matmut Stadium, this afternoon, to set up a repeat of the 2022 final against Leinster. While last year’s showpiece was played at Stade Velodrome in Marseille, this year’s offering will be at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium.

“It’s probably hard in yer mind-set,” O’Gara said to Bayfield, and fellow former England stars Lawrence Dallaglio and Austin Healey, “but the month that Leinster have [cpming up], we have it every month. I think you need to think about that a little bit.

“We’re 10 months of a slog. So, I have to get a team [together] for Toulon, then we play Montpellier and then Leinster. You might think it’s a little bit off if this guy here is just thinking about [a team to play] Leinster on just the week of the final.”

Warming to that tone, Bayfield suggested that Leinster having a URC quarter final and a potential semi-final over the two weekends before they face La Rochelle in the Champions Cup decider was a handy run of it.

“This is a huge challenge for any French team, isn’t it?” asked Bayfield. “Let’s look at La Rochelle. They do have two huge [Top 14] games to come before they face Leinster. Leinster don’t have that. Should we look at that… ”

“No,” Ronan O’Gara interrupted. “To be fair, sorry, Leinster do have that. Because they’ve a quarter final of the URC, a semi-final.”

Bayfield attempted to explain he was talking about the regular season ‘grind’ before Healey bailed him out by changing the subject back to the La Rochelle players.

Ronan O’Gara still wanted more from La Rochelle

After taking his team to a third straight Champions Cup final, Ronan O’Gara reflected that his team ‘left 20 points out there’ and were poor when they did not have ball-in-hand.

O’Gara is excited by the challenge of taking on Leinster at Lansdowne Road, on May 20, but says the immediate focus will be two big Top 14 games over the next two weeks.

Leinster senior coach Leo Cullen hopes to have Robbie Henshaw back for the URC knock-out stages but said he would be “shocked” if captain Johnny Sexton returns before the season is over. He did say he expected to make “tweaks” to his team for next Saturday’s URC quarter final against Sharks.

In that quarter final, Leinster should face off against Springbok stars like Eben Etzebeth, Lukhanyo Am, Thomas du Toit, Bongi Mbonambi, Makazole Mapimpi and Ox Nché. Hardly pushovers, especially when you considers South Africa’s Bulls beat Leinster, in Dublin, at last season’s semi-final stage.

The final was confirmed for Saturday, May 20 at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. It will be available to watch in the UK and Ireland on RTE, ITV and BT Sport.

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