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Absolute Scenes In La Rochelle

BY Philip Bendon  ·  Monday May 30, 2022

La Rochelle completed a comeback of epic proportions in Saturday’s Heineken Champions Cup final.

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The Top14 side trailed Irish giants Leinster with two minutes left on the clock. Having been camped on Leinster’s line for the best part of ten minutes it appeared as though the blue wall would not be broken as La Rochelle were repelled time and again.

As the clock wound down it appeared as though Ronan O’Gara’s side would fall to his greatest rivals having in heart breaking fashion.

Having come oh so close last season having beaten Leinster in the semi-finals only to fall to Toulouse in the final, there would be no disappointing end for men in black and yellow.

As if a dam wall had suddenly burst, Arthur Retiere extended his arm like the go-go-gadget man to bash the ball down and with it seal a historic victory.

Having only been in the topflight of French rugby in 2014, where La Rochelle have come from in such a short space of time is incredible, almost mirroring that of former champions Exeter Chiefs.

In a similar vein to the Chiefs, La Rochelle are a costal town ever so slightly off the beaten path geographically from their closest competitors. This combined with Ronan O’Gara’s Munster us against the world approach has created a potent beast.

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Speaking of O’Gara it has taken more than just bitterness and a rousing team speech to get his side from almost rans to European champions.

The former flyhalf has shown his tactical astuteness has carried over from his playing days to the coaching box. However, what appears to be his biggest strength is his player first mentality, it is clear his side plays for him.

Having quite literally travelled the globe in pursuit of coaching knowledge, O’Gara has combined the very best of Munster grit with Crusaders ruthlessness and French flair from his time at Racing92.

As the city of La Rochelle celebrate their greatest moment, could there be a more in demand coach than ROG?

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