The sight of a bored looking Ronan O'Gara, during Ulster v La Rochelle yesterday evening at the Aviva Stadium, was no doubt amusing to most. However, the La Rochelle head coach will be delighted with his side's bonus point win.
The Champions Cup clash had been moved to Dublin, after the Kingspan Stadium was deemed unplayable by EPCR officials, despite the feeling from Ulster that the pitch was match ready.
It made for an extremely depressing and empty atmosphere in Ballsbridge, typified by the image of Ronan O'Gara surrounded by hundreds of empty seats.
Ronan O'Gara Looking Lonely During Ulster V La Rochelle
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) December 17, 2022
Despite the match being listed as a home game for Ulster, it felt more like they were playing away from home, given that La Rochelle were sneakily able to bring in a few hundred fans themselves.
Between this and the fact that the Kingspan pitch was thought to be ok to host the game, Ulster head coach Dan McFarland voiced his immense displeasure at the proceedings.
"The bottom line is the decision was wrong. It could have been played at Ravenhill,
"My personal opinion is that we were there this morning at 10 o'clock, 9.30am, and that pitch was playable.
"I was there the night before and the people there predicted that it was going to be playable.
"We knew it was going to be ready because the weather was predicted to change overnight. But that decision was taken away from us."
"I've been involved in European rugby for more than 20 years.
"It has spirit, it has feeling. If you want to reduce it to the word product, the product is more than just the game. To me, that should be remembered in the decision making in this sort of thing.