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Aldritt Reveals Ronan O'Gara's Brilliant Advice On La Rochelle Celebrations

Aldritt Reveals Ronan O'Gara's Brilliant Advice On La Rochelle Celebrations
By Eoin Harrington Updated
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For La Rochelle and their head coach Ronan O'Gara, the celebrations after last month's Champions Cup final win could only last so long.

The French club claimed a second consecutive European crown in spectacular fashion, with a dramatic comeback from 17-0 down at the Aviva Stadium against Leinster, who were left licking their wounds for a second year running in the final.

However, with the French domestic season still a few weeks away from being concluded, there remained plenty of work for La Rochelle to do.

Nonetheless, captain Gregory Alldritt has revealed that O'Gara encouraged the players to enjoy their well-earned celebrations - within reason, of course.

READ HERE: O'Gara v Sexton: Five Chapters Of One Of Irish Sport's Great Rivalries

Gregory Alldritt says Ronan O'Gara encouraged hearty Champions Cup celebrations

In just four seasons as head coach at Stade Rochelais, Ronan O'Gara has equalled the greatest achievements of his club playing career - a pair of European Cup crowns.

20 May 2023; Gregory Alldritt, left, and Romain Sazy of La Rochelle lift the trophy after during the Heineken Champions Cup Final match between Leinster and La Rochelle at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

His La Rochelle team have reached the last three Champions Cup finals, winning the last two. Despite their success in Europe, they are yet to taste Top 14 success.


Even after the Champions Cup final, there was still the last regular season Top 14 game to be played against Stade Francais on Sunday May 28, followed by this weekend's play-off semi-final against Bordeaux, and a potential final against Toulouse or Racing 92 next weekend.


For that reason, it could have been understandable if O'Gara had put the foot down and discouraged his players from partying too hard in celebration.

Speaking to the Le French Rugby podcast this week, La Rochelle skipper Gregory Alldritt revealed that quite the opposite was true, with O'Gara encouraging his players to savour the moment:

You don't realise when you are still on the field but coming back to La Rochelle, seeing all the fans in the harbour and cheering for us, was really deep.

Winning the first title in Marseille was emotional for the club but the second one, winning against Leinster in Dublin after being 17 points behind. This creates a magic around the second one but honestly impossible to choose between both.

We have a [...] fantastic club and fantastic staff, because we won it last year, they could have said, 'come on, guys, it's normal' - no, it's not normal.

That was the words of ROG, like, 'guys, you did something, it's not normal. You worked hard for it so party hard for maybe four or five days and then we'll get back to work and prepare the rest of the season but just realise that there is nothing normal in what you did.'

20 May 2023; La Rochelle head coach Ronan O'Gara, centre, with Romain Sazy, left, and Grégory Alldritt during the post match media conference after the Heineken Champions Cup Final match between Leinster and La Rochelle at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

So much was Ronan O'Gara's pride in his players that he hosted them and their families for a barbecue in the aftermath of their immense triumph in Dublin.


And it was there that he issued the expected ultimatum to put the heads down to the end of the season as La Rochelle pursue a first ever double:

All the players and staff go over there and have a barbecue with him, the families and this is the end of the celebration and get back to training on Thursday.

ROG's speech was 'guys, it was incredible to party [like] that but now I want you to be really focused and no more party, no more drinking until the [semi-final]'.

O'Gara and captain Alldritt were involved in a war of words with their Leinster counterparts in the days surrounding the Champions Cup final, showing the edge that has helped La Rochelle to punch above their weight in recent years.

Top 14 success this season would the cherry on the cake.

Featured image: Sportsfile

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