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'How Did I Fool Myself?': ROG Dissects Racing's Battering By Munster

'How Did I Fool Myself?': ROG Dissects Racing's Battering By Munster
By Gavan Casey Updated

The pauses that interspersed Ronan O'Gara's post-match dissection of his side's capitulation to Munster said enough.

Despite the Munster icon's insistence - and indeed that of his former teammates currently employed by the province - Racing rolled over after 20 minutes in Colombes, and Munster romped to a deserved 32-7 victory - one of their finest on French soil.

"The scary thing from our point of view is that we have to go to Thomond Park," O'Gara told Sky Sports in a highly emotive post-match natter. "That could be..." He paused again. "...on today's performance, beyond embarrassing."

Now almost a week removed from a hiding at the hands of the club he helped build, ROG has taken to his ever-interesting Irish Examiner column to elaborate on the mindset of both he and Racing's players last weekend. He acknowledged that, while his interview with Sky Sports was reactionary, he had miscalculated the culture and standing of Racing in the lead-up to the fixture.

O'Gara writes in the Examiner:

There was a bit of emotion involved when I spoke to the media after last Saturday. I had conjured up a scenario in my head beforehand that big clubs, whatever team they put out, don’t get spanked, don’t let themselves down. Clubs and squads that essentially run themselves, set their own standards.

I pictured Barcelona in my mind. That was my big mistake. Putting Racing on the same page as Barcelona. We are so far off that. How did I fool myself? Hunger was not an issue, despite what many are saying. We expect players to come in and present themselves for selection going forward. That didn’t happen.

It's long been suggested that European competitions play second fiddle to domestic rugby in France. The Top 14 title is a priority, where the Champions Cup can - depending on a side's domestic run during a given season - be viewed as merely a welcome bonus.

O'Gara has encountered such a culture at Racing and indeed across France. It's a mindset which - at his club at least - the iconic former Ireland 10 is keen to change in the coming seasons:

I have stressed here before — and I acknowledge it’s difficult to understand — but it doesn’t take much for a Top 14 player to take his eyes off Europe and lock in on the Bouclier. The Champions Cup will always come a distant second when the Top 14 is mentioned in the same discussion.

It’s odd. Once we lost at home to Glasgow, I suspected eyes were already looking towards playing Lyon on January 28th. I’d like to change that mindset.

Amongst his intriguing analysis of Munster in his Examiner column, ROG singled out one Simon Zebo for praise - echoing our own sentiments following 'that' victory over Glasgow.

O'Gara likened Munster's record try-scorer to a prolific footballing forward, such is his strike rate in red. Not that he was willing to overdo his praise while in Zebo's presence last weekend:

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I called over to the Munster team hotel in Paris last Friday night to meet Murray, Earlsie, Peter and Zebo. There’s a lad who’s flying [Zebo]. There doesn’t appear to be any more Hail Mary stuff with Zebo, though you almost expect that from a fella with that much X Factor.

We were talking about how much reliability he has added to his game. He is like a goal-a-game striker these days but I couldn’t think of an appropriate comparison for him, and I wasn’t going to tell him he was a Messi or Ronaldo. Van Nistelrooy or Shearer maybe — with flashier boots.

As per usual, Ronan O'Gara's column is available in the Irish Examiner, and as per usual, it's worth the two bob alone.

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SEE ALSO: Zebo And Bleyendaal Stand Up As Leaders 10 Months After Almighty O'Mahony Bollocking

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