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Ronan O'Gara has created great character in La Rochelle - Fiona Hayes

Ronan O'Gara deserves all the credit for turning La Rochelle into European champions, according to Fiona Hayes.

Cian Fahey
Cian Fahey

16:52 29 May 2022



Former Ireland and Munster rugby player Fiona Hayes joined Joe Molloy to react to La Rochelle's Champions Cup final win over Leinster.

It wasn't the most memorable final. Especially not for Leinster fans.

Leinster led for most of the game but made critical errors at the end that allowed Ronan O'Gara's La Rochelle to win out. Ronan O'Gara is receiving all the plaudits today for his tactical insight and the character he has created in his team's dressing room.

 Fiona Hayes is amongst those celebrating the Irish coach's development and his output as La Rochelle head coach.

"It was a coaching masterclass," Hayes said.

"I talked all in the build-up to this. We were looking at Leinster and how strong they are, they've improved in so many areas, ball-carrying and all those different areas, but ROG got that team to stick with him. They were down. The discipline wasn't great at times but they reverted back to their scrum, reverted back to their maul. The things they were really good at.

"You saw a lot of character. He's definitely built that in them."

While La Rochelle lack the big names of a Racing 92 or Toulon, they do have a handful of superstars they rely on. Gregory Alldritt was outstanding at eight. All six front row players excelled when they were on the field. Raymond Rhule scored a great opening try and Jonathan Danty was a constant problem.

But of course it was that old familiar face for Leinster fans who ultimately ruined their season. Will Skelton.

"The big standout for me was Will Skelton. Coming back after being injured and lasting that 80 minutes. I looked at him around the 68th minute and said he's definitely out on his feet. He should have gone off but he had the character to keep on going and last those 80 minutes.

"Ronan O'Gara has to be congratulated and the coaching staff on building that into these guys."

Josh van der Flier is the best player in Europe - Fiona Hayes

 

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Jonathan Sexton La Rochelle Leinster Ronan O'Gara Will Skelton

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