Ronan O’Gara leads La Rochelle to maiden Champions Cup success against Leinster

The Munster man added to his pair of titles won as a player with the province.

Ronan O’Gara avenged the defeat of the 2021 Champions Cup final to lead La Rochelle to European glory on Saturday afternoon as they overcame Leinster 24-21 in Marseille.

It was a maiden title for the French outfit who left it until the final minute as their third try of the game with the final act in play secured the win.

The Corkman was aided by Donnacha Ryan in the backroom team with the backrower a part of the 2008 Munster side who claimed a second Heineken Cup title in three years with O’Gara to the fore in both successes.

Leinster led for close to an hour before Arthur Retiere’s 80th-minute try nudged La Rochelle in front as Ihaia West converted with the last play of the day.

A pair of Johnny Sexton penalties had Leinster, who failed to score a try, six to the good inside ten minutes.

But the French side replied swiftly as Raymond Rhule ran in their first try.

Sexton restored Leinster’s lead after 22 minutes and added a fourth penalty before the half to leave it 12-7 in the province’s favour.

West had his first penalty of the day within ninety seconds of the restart but two more from the boot of Sexton had Leinster 18-10 clear with just under a half hour to play.

But on the hour mark, Pierre Bourgarit powered over the line as West made it a one point game.

Ross Byrne extended Leinster’s lead back out to four with fifteen to play but after immense pressure, La Rochelle eventually breached the tryline to cue ecstatic scenes from the first time champions.

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