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The La Rochelle Homecoming Was Absolutely Amazing

The La Rochelle Homecoming Was Absolutely Amazing
By Luke Delaney
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La Rochelle players and staff were given a heroes reception on Sunday evening as they returned home with the Champions Cup after their 24-21 victory over Leinster in Marseille. It was estimated that over 35,000 Les Maritimes supporters took to the streets to celebrate their first European Cup success.

Ronan O'Gara's side were heavy underdogs heading into the final and found themselves trailing 21-17 and down to 14 men after Thomas Lavault was sin binned with just 15 minutes remaining.

Despite this, La Rochelle found a late winner courtesy of substitute Arthur Retiere who powered home from close range to deny Leinster a fifth Champions Cup title.


It's the first time in their history that La Rochelle have won a European Cup and after losing out to Toulouse in last year's final, it made the victory even sweeter for the La Rochelle supporters.


There was fantastic scenes as the people of La Rochelle turned out in their thousands to welcome the team back, with over half the city's 70,000 population, estimated to have taken to the streets.


Ronan O'Gara on La Rochelle's triumph

After the game, Ronan O'Gara spoke to the BT Sport panel and told them about how "massive" the win is for the people of La Rochelle.


"Should be carnage on the Port for the next four days," said the former Munster man.

"It's massive I think, like eight years ago they're in Pro D2. The mentality was you know to be competing is great but the European Cup for us three here know how special it is. Last season they got into it and they liked it because the Top 14 is such a marathon but we got a sprint going this season."

O'Gara's post match reaction was cut short as his players joined him on their victory lap around the pitch.



The La Rochelle head coach took to Twitter on Sunday evening to give his thanks for the amazing support that was shown.

O'Gara also spoke about the preparation his side had put in ahead of the final and knew that his team could cause Leinster trouble in the closing stages of the game.

“I said to them before the game if we could sign (at half-time) for 12-7 I’d sign it because we knew we’re a second-half team,”

“The data says that. As a coach you have to get into that, even though I prefer the human side of the game, but we knew then that Leinster’s last 20 is where we can get them. You’re talking about fine margins. I’m probably trying to explain why the boys were so mentally strong in the last five minutes." O'Gara said.

Leinster's wait for a fifth Champions Cup title will have to be put on hold for at least another season, but Leo Cullen's side still have a URC title to play for. They face Glasgow Warriors on Saturday in the quarterfinal.

See Also: Watch: Ronan O'Gara Gives Incredible Interview After Champions Cup Triumph Over Leinster

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