Sunday 20 May 2018

Racing certs to drive ROG crazy

Ronan O'Gara. Photo: Getty
Ronan O'Gara. Photo: Getty

Joe Molloy

As haunted sportspeople go, Ronan O'Gara excelled in the role on Saturday after Racing's 32-7 defeat at home to Munster in Paris.

Two hours earlier, he had confidently told Sky Sports' Graham Simmons that, although Racing didn't have qualification to play for, they most certainly had their pride.

The last remnants of any pride evaporated early in proceedings. As Eddie O'Sullivan reminded us on Monday night, when French teams pack it in, they properly pack it in; by contrast he said, "ROG would tear your eyes out just to lose by a point less".

French teams have been and still are 'emotional', added O'Sullivan, and indeed many have made this observation, but it remains strikingly odd that embarrassment and anger don't register more often. This was after all a home performance.

On our live commentary, Liam Toland was dismayed at the absence of process or detail right across the Racing performance. Amongst other failings, he saw no support runners, no coherent exit strategy and a laissez-fare attitude at the breakdown.

All of the above is anathema to O'Gara. Honest as ever, he reconvened with Simmons on Sky. His face painted a picture. His words weren't far behind.

"We're nowhere near it at the moment. They schooled us up front. They schooled us in the kicking game. The scary thing is we have to go to Thomond Park. That could be eh… on today's performance… beyond embarrassing."

Racing, Top 14 champions, have spent big and pay well. But O'Gara piercingly concluded: "Maybe there are interesting aspects in terms of recruitment too. The key performers for Munster were probably all in the ages of 26-29." A penny for the thoughts of the over-30s in his dressing room this week.

Finally, Simmons wondered, "from a personal point of view, how much are you looking forward to going back to Thomond Park?" O'Gara: "Well after that [performance], not at all because that's…." And he tailed off, struggling for the adjective. He's burning and here's hoping O'Gara never changes. French rugby will drive him mad.

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