Ronan O’Gara offers explanation into Montpellier’s heavy Champions Cup beating

Ronan O'Gara Champions Cup

It caused quite the debate over the weekend.

Former Munster and Ireland fly-half Ronan O’Gara suggested that Montpellier’s decision to field a severely weakened side for their Champions Cup defeat to Leinster was, in part, down to their lack of success in Europe previously.

Leinster’s heavy beating of their French opponents at the RDS may have come as no real surprise, but it was the scale of the scoreline that raised concerns.

And on Off the Ball, O’Gara attempted to explain why attitudes towards European competitions differ around Europe.

Ronan O’Gara: “The Champions Cup means very different things to an awful lot of people..”

“That’s a hugely important point,” he said on OTB AM. “The more you travel and get around you understand that the Champions Cup means very different things to an awful lot of people.

“I think for people in Ireland to even consider what Montpellier did… They’re probably all up in arms over the team that Montpellier put out there.

“They’re going well in the Top 14, and they feel like this is the competition for them.

“French clubs like Toulouse and Racing, and most definitely Clermont. There’s a culture, and I suppose, a tradition established with the Champions Cup.

“Those teams go after silverware in Europe because they believe in the magic of the Champions Cup. Castres probably do to a point as well.

They have a long history in the competition. Castres changed their team, making 14 changes, and it was probably more their second-team instead of their first-team.”

Ronan O’Gara on French teams in Europe.

And while O’Gara praised his Castres for doing their best to uphold the integrity of the competition, he offered an explanation that explains why some have different views towards it.

“But for other teams that don’t have that emotional attachment with the competition… You could see what Montpellier had was more of an academy team.

“As a result, they got blown out of the water and their club’s reputation is damaged as a result. I think the La Rochelle’s, and the other teams like that. They want to get to that level where Europe means something for them.

“Once you’ve tasted that personally, or as a club, I think the value of European competition will remain intact.”

While O’Gara’s comments are a lot more measured than Bernard Jackman’s, they do offer an explanation at least into Montpellier’s heavy beating in Dublin.

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