Ronan O’Gara makes U-turn on Champions Cup final referee comments

Ronan O'Gara referee

Ronan O’Gara has revealed that he’s changed his mind regarding the performance of the officiating team in last weekend’s Heineken Champions Cup final.

La Rochelle were narrowly beaten by Toulouse in their first-ever Champions Cup final, after which head coach O’Gara made no excuses for his side’s loss and commended referee Luke Pearce for a good performance.

However, O’Gara has now expressed his disappointment in the officiating performance in his column for the Irish Examiner, saying that he “anticipated better” from the officials.

Ronan O’Gara – ‘I’m a bit bent out of shape.’

“Truth to tell, we weren’t accurate or good enough to win the final. But I’m also a bit bent out of shape by the performance of the officials on the day,” O’Gara wrote.

“I said immediately afterwards in a TV interview that the referee Luke Pearce had a good game. On review, I now believe that wasn’t the case.

“You expect a certain level of decision-making on the biggest stage but it doesn’t come guaranteed and I anticipated better from Luke Pearce, Wayne Barnes and Matthew Carley.”

‘It was a sh*t sandwich in every respect.’

While O’Gara was mostly complimentary of the officials in his post-match interview, the former Munster fly-half did bring up the final seconds of the match, in which he suspected Toulouse’s Romain Ntamack was holding onto the ball on the ground.

“I can’t wait to see the Ntamack against three at the end,” O’Gara said in the immediate aftermath of the final.

“It’s still an action part of the game, if he’s holding the ball on the ground it’s a penalty maybe you can kick to the touch and normally you score from that.”

Having now re-watched those final seconds, O’Gara is convinced that Toulouse players came in from the side when stopping La Rochelle’s players from stripping the ball from Ntamack.

“He’s isolated, we’ve hands-on, Toulouse are guilty of side entry on the cleanout. The rule on that is that you’ve to come in behind the ‘gate’,” O’Gara explained.

“The Toulouse players are 10 yards ahead of a retreating Ntamack, so to get onside they would have to come in the ‘gate’. It was a sh*t sandwich in every respect, but it appeared like the referee was more focused on whether it was brioche or baguette.”

Read More About: Heineken Champions Cup, Luke Pearce, ronan o'gara