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Monday night, rugby on off the ball with Vodafone official sponsors of the Irish rugby team team of us, everyone n now then you are welcome along.
It is Monday night rugby. We have ourselves a Champions Cup final seventeenth of October four. Forty five Ashton Gate. It will be an Anglo-French affair rushing into their third final. Now they are desperate to get over the line versus exit are very much in their first final after really brilliant Saturday rugby russin beating Saracen's 19 points to 15 Exeter winners against to lose twenty eight points to eighteen. To discuss, we have the man, the myth, the legend. Ronan O'Gara.
Good evening. How are you. Very well. How are things. We are great. Yeah, all good. Thank you.
I was looking for a larochelle score over the weekend. I didn't see one. Was this a bye week of some kind or did I just make a mess of it? No, you're right.
On last weekend. Yeah. So those who are crossing the weekend previously and then obviously to lose Ulster and then this weekend to lose obviously semi-final, undressing semifinals. So I don't think they had in their schedule accounted for a French team getting to the final day, as it transpires, Rossing player to land on the seventeenth. So both teams in the finals. So it works out really well, actually.
OK, very good. We might start with the passing game then racing against Saracen's nineteen points to fifteen for people who didn't see it in the second half in particular felt very dramatic. It was nine six of the break to Russin. You suspect Saracen's were happy enough and then sarees in kind of an Aviva ESC way against Leinster the previous week kicked nine unanswered points. It was fifty nine. National Penalty makes it fifteen, twelve and then series are hanging on.
There's only four minutes to go when this happens.
As you'll hear French TV, we're pretty excited to see the. Go like that, though, he said. OK, there we are on the ship.
I think I know what even that means.
No, I think it's such a disappointment if you seen the images compared to what the guys on the radio are talking about. But it's.
Yeah, but I think you're you're missing for me. The key point is fifty nine and the ball captured by Lewington and he's 10 meters player and he decides to pick it up. I think if we gave him another chance. Always you try. Well for me the rule is basically you've got to keep kicking and then plunge in in the over Detroit. I think he didn't realize basically how much of an opportunity to get a chance he had. But that happens in semi-finals potentially.
It was probably this guy's biggest game and biggest occasion. And that's sometimes what happens.
You freeze when when potentially for me that was the game, because with the quality of rossell, with the quality of Utako fifty nine, there's always that capacity to pull off what they did. And I think watching it, to be honest. Fifty nine. I thought it was on top. Rossing had accepted nearly defeat. They got a little bit of an extra life by going 15 12. But for me it seemed that Saracen's were nearly in cruise mode at that stage.
But. I know it's easy watching it, but you are nearly thinking, why is the line in the line? Why don't they have someone covering the tip line? Is there a message coming through there? And that's been hindsight is a great selecter, as they say, putting someone there. But that's if you watch the score racing out against Montpellier a few weeks previously. It's it's a similar story. But this story is better, but it's along the same lines because actually not the couple catching it.
There's a lot of skin involved. He he isn't it's not just the dink. He's actually started his run quite, quite deep and he's nearly full tilt catching the ball. But then its capacity to to offload push worked away and then philosothon also to accelerate through. And if you look at it closely, he nearly sticks it off too much that the ball could have hopped off. His social one has done really well to look at the ball. And I suppose that's what makes it so, so, so fascinating sport, because I thought the game was OK, but genuinely did watch.
And it was you know, I just meant so much to him. You could see at the full time whistle was nearly like a celebration for a final victory. But as we know, after watching the other semifinal afterwards, I suppose how confident composed Lukla or Exeter, even, I suppose epitomized by the interview of Baxter during the game, order to lose are entitled to patches there, a serious team, but we're kind of backing ourselves at the back end of the game.
And his words were extremely accurate.
You just made an interesting point there about Sari's maybe did you say maybe a too many in the line so they were liable to be done with that chip?
Just I didn't think that was a long stretch.
And I think that's probably just me analyzing it a bit because we played this week. But they have a deadly short kicking game along the lines of England. I think that's where they are probably ahead of international teams. I think their capacity be at Slaid, be it far will be at four p.m. daily. There could be Johnny made their capacity to to push the ball into certain zones to pressurise teams is probably superior to a lot of other teams. But, you know, the double combo of and it's not always roster of Utako, but it is for that play.
But also and game is is very impressive in general terms.
So, for instance, I was watching the game alongside Shane Jennings and he was watching Russin and we're talking rugby and everybody's under pressure. And he didn't like some of their basics. For instance, he felt they're bold presentation at times was just so sloppy, you know, especially in the first half was one of the reasons he felt they couldn't get momentum. But then this is more more what I'm asking you about in the second half, especially as they were behind, he felt that they were doing silly things.
There was one moment where Thin Russell try to pass and he thought it was the wrong thing to do because there was a penalty definitely coming. Or another example, they try to trick line play on about fifty three minutes when you kind of scream and just get the ball and do some basics. Right. And, and really stress series. What did you make of the way Russin went about their business in that second half when they went behind? I think that makes an interesting point, because I think actually that's the difference between being suffocated by another team and being suffocated by a team that have such trust in each other, like Saracen's.
We saw it the week previously against Lankester because you know, how many tries to Leinster score and maybe in a different league, in a far weaker lead. But even in Europe, over all the years like that, I think Saracen's mentally and physically break.
And I thought that at that stage that they had done that to Rossell. And the fact that he was he was probably put under pressure. He knew he would be. But I don't think the solutions were as forthcoming as they thought they may potentially be in the way he imagined or visualize the game. But a credit to him after seventy six minutes, he still had the composure to pull it out of. A lot of us covered a really slow kick.
But as you say, I think that's what happens when you play. I can remember it was similar when we played England once or twice and even on a way there when England and English teams get on the front for defending because you've got to remember to draw. It's an indoor rain at the surface. Incredibly good conditions for play. And people like to compliment Rossing Saracen's didn't score Atreyu against them. And the amount of quality that Saracen's have, that's a fair achievement with a dry ball and a fast pitch, but flipping it around, you don't get many opportunities in this one.
I think for me, the game hinged on and I said and record, it never comes down to one more. But after Saracen's, I suppose weathering everything, wresting control with them and then keeping to nine points. Great job. But then Lewington had the opportunity and it's harsh, but that's I think if you gave him that decision again, he continues to kick it until he died. Yeah.
It'll be interesting to see his reaction when he watches it back on TV. Did he realize what the full picture was? Maybe he didn't. What about Donna around then? Thirty seven years old, doing his thing and coming back from injury as well. Didn't have minutes under the belt.
Yeah, he's hired and he's solid and he's so intelligent. And, you know, I'd be delighted with three Irish guys in the club that would have made a contribution. And I think it's very important.
I probably mark that because I'd be delighted, obviously, from my Prendergast, because he's a coach who has done the hard yards and he's gone around the world and gone around the unfashionable clubs in France, shall we say. And now he's got his opportunity with a big, big super club and he's thriving and doesn't you know, I think we experienced the Zebo, too. He was. Against Clairemont, he did well with the second game back at you, it's easy to get yourself probably ready for the first game, but you've got to come up against Saracen's one or two errors.
But I think he has a greyish, I suppose, feeling and linked with a lot of a lot of the players. They play for each other. They've got a great spirit there. But also, I think it's you got to remember, too, that Lawrence Rivera, who's a great manager, he's been there since 2013, Joel. And I know it's the third final five years, but they haven't won one and. People, I suppose, in a in the game understand they get into a fight and that's one thing, but actually it's a big step in winning this.
And I know you're going to say Exeter inexperienced, but they have been the common team for a number of years as well. And you know what? A difference and probably opinion are rules about the salary cap. They could have been a lot more successful in terms of titles they could have.
And I think they feel that, you know, and any time Rob Baxter is interviewed, I think he feels that they've been robbed really. And they should have, you know, have a totally different CV at the moment. Just as we leave the Saracen's performance. I don't think we've had John since their win at the stadium last Saturday. What did you make of it then? You know, there's been so much talk here, various points made in talking about Leinster being spooked in the first half.
And the similarities have been pointed out with the match in St James's Park in May, twenty nineteen, the way Saracen's beat Leinster there. And then obviously the parallels with England Ireland games of late as well. So what struck you about this? The Saracen's win in Dublin? What struck me, I think, was the first 40 minutes, what a complete performance of of Rokeby from from Saracen's in terms of usually it takes 60, 70, 75 minutes for you to to break your opponent.
But Saracen's actually managed straight from the kick off to get into the groove and just to keep their foot on Leinster strong and keep going and keep going, I think, to go in 20 to three. I don't think anyone supporting Leinster Leinster could have any complaints about dush. It was exactly. They played comparably, they played pressure rugby. I think for anyone who questions the value of a box, you've got to look at what Wigglesworth does and Hawary kicks it on how effectively he kicks the ball and a kick is as good as his chest.
And if you can catch the ball just right over your head, it helps. But in terms of the duncker to form of repeating the simple things done, well, Saracen's try the knot. But also I think what I suppose was not Rocksmith, but what really impressed me was the understanding of the rules by their players and understanding of what's attacking what's a rock. I told you it's toxicant, but also its decision making around the tackle, around the rock.
I don't think you conceded a penalty all day. His capacity to watch the bottom defensive line six metres from the line to intercept. That's your second rule coming up with big plays. When his team needs it, he's coming in with more time. Our job tackles to enable the ball. It's just you can't give twenty to an offence, and that's their day. They had the chance to win the game or force extra time. Both twenty two three is just too big to give a jump in a jump in steam.
So fully accepting all your points about Saracen's brilliance at Leinster, trying to pitch themselves at their standard. They're going for a fifth star in the jersey. Wow. They couldn't cope. What went wrong?
Why were they not doing well? Stata Probably not catching the kick off and then they had a few what would be the word uncustomary errors.
Then they essentially to get into the game you need a functioning set piece of the scrum, let them down. So it's very hard to to gain territory if you don't have a performing scrum out of a scrum that can maintain parity so that not alone. Socks, the territoriality.
But it also socks the spirit out of you because it's the biggest non mana factor in rugby that still exists because it's essentially a against against one crushing someone else's intentions about and it's happened in the World Cup final. It happened in the Champions Cup semi-final. So it's great to see the scrum is still alive. And people would say, well, what's it referee correctly? I don't know, because I don't understand or follow that domain. But I think if you're a neutral, you'd have to say that certainly the scrum was not anywhere near dominant and it looked like this Saracen's made them suffer.
And that's what great teams do. And then you've added to edit data. You can kick it from 60 and they maximise the score to try to try to score. It was it was a brilliant score one. So it was a combination of simple. Robbie did the effective but also ripping teams apart with the ball in hand as well.
I just want to play a clip of Stuart Lancaster. He was speaking to the media today. And so one of the things which has been discussed is the England versus Ireland slash Leinster versus Sari's dynamic. And it's been the point dominated by lots of people that Irish teams at the moment are struggling with the power that English teams are bringing to the equation. So here's Stuart Lancaster answering that question today.
It's probably too simplistic to say that personally, it was not long ago, Ireland winning Grand Slams. We won the vote. We won the European Cup two years ago. The rout is yeah, we've lost it twice now in Ireland was thinking twice. I think the game in Newcastle was nip and tuck. I really think we were 10 three or going into halftime. Obviously, I just don't have time. We definitely had opportunities to start a second half and it was only when we lost got far to the been really that they got the the momentum in the game and it gave us too much to do with the short short time left on the clock.
So, you know, this game is different, I think. And this Leinster game, it's not. I mean, in four years I've been at Leinster, I've not seen as concede as many scrum penalties in any game. So, you know, I don't worry about things that I know can fix those things technically. Perhaps one or two things didn't go away that we should have done. But that's rubbish. I think. I think going on to the island games and the games are coming on the corner island, more than enough in the armory to challenge England, I think is probably more the kicking game actually in the last game, England, Ireland, that that the results in England getting that win.
But the reality is different systems of England or the big teams in Europe, you have to do the fundamentals really well. And on the day, you know, we didn't do that well enough and that was the reason sometimes one.
So that's Lancaster there. I mean, you can't really disagree with much of that. And obviously it's simplistic to put it down to one thing, whatever that one thing is. But the power issue is still an issue. Like you mentioned, the grand slam win and Patty's Day in twenty eighteen running fact remains. There was no believe in Apollo that day. There was no two laggy that day. I had to look back the English bakra was Robshaw, Haskell and Simmons.
You know, if we're going from twenty nineteen, it does feel like the power game is an issue. Well, especially with the individuals you mentioned, some of them are on Marco Island and incredibly good players like to wear like these bloody hard to stop. No matter what you say with their holes, you got to be 10 meters by office. Gromit's background against background. He's a hard man to chop, to believe in a ball off the back of a scrum.
He's going to get on the floor and thought. But I think and I agree with Stuart, I think what happened for 80 minutes in the seminar are starting to clarify. The Saracen's play players played better than the Leinster guys in their in their head to head. Jewelz, but that's sometimes and that's for that 80 minutes. You know, I think it's it would be, for me, completely inaccurate to make a sweeping general comment in that regard, because it's the 80 minutes you're judged on.
And there is definitely a power issue with with the guys you mentioned there. But you look at the damage done under Hill and Kurri Kurri did at the World Cup, you're not done.
They're not they're not physical players. They're just incredibly smart and huge engines on them. But it's also a case of like how many errors when Leinster had the ball or highballs against Saracen's the last, that they would be probably disappointed with their own, I suppose, skill set in that on that day. But I think, you know, if you look at it from the Newcastle games and Stuart said it was an opportunity maybe for Ringrose to kill the game, for Leinster to beat, Saracen's got there and he put his hand up and he was very manly about it.
And he said, if you get that chance back again, he would have delivered a pass.
And do you agree? Do you agree that led to a riot in the game that you do?
Absolutely. OK, well, it sure will be on the scoreboard and be mentally and being physically watching the game in their favor. For me for 40 minutes, there was one team in the game. And then in fairness, the Leinster, with their character, they responded really well, but they get nineteen points too much at this level. What you could say, there was probably an opportunity maybe not to play it deep when I think it was a armourer force, then offloaded the ball, came out.
That's a huge release of pressure, especially against the team that just knew that they needed to get one kick score a goal to get to put them out of range.
You mentioned the errors. They're like, it's an interesting thing, isn't it, when we're talking about a very talented bunch, this Irish bunch, you've been in big games and won big games. And you can think of how many games of where we're seeing really silly errors slipping in.
You know, like, I suppose that's a long time to win. A long time ago, Ireland had one big game.
So sorry. Yes, to the point I was going to put it is we can no longer say this is a group that don't make errors under at their best lychees to the errors were practically zero unforced errors in this team. They're razor-sharp. Their discipline is part of that. And now you're saying like it's not you can't even call them uncharacteristic at times anymore. You're just seeing errors way too often over the last 18 months. And I don't know why that's happened.
Well, it was November 2013 when Ireland destroyed, destroyed, might be too strong, but Ireland clinically outperformed.
Yes. Clinical is the word. Yeah, that that was that was the peak. But the graph is downward since then, but that's in sporting parlance, that's a long time ago. You're coming up to two years. Twenty four months or so.
So why the errors? Why the Johnny Sextons restarts in the Principality Stadium know and we saw a restart again at the weekend. Why the knock ons? Why why is all that here? Whatever about other teams analyzing Ireland and doing their homework in Ireland and blocking our runners from a box cake and all that kind of stuff? I'm talking about the errors. Just the execution seems to have dipped. Lots of pressure.
Those two, too, I think, you know, big games like that.
But what we're saying, they've managed big games in the past. Yeah, they have they have, you know, I wasn't aware of Johnny's error in the millennium, but that was very uncharacteristic. To be fair, some, like his kicking basics, are very, very strong. But for him, he'd be the most disappointed. He knows that that that just can't happen in a game like that. When when do you need the leaders or the leader standing up?
But that's that's what Saracen's, don't you? They they put you in a place where your brain can go and you come. You probably said, I've done this restacked a thousand times and you take your eye a tiny little bit off.
So you put it down to Saracen's Saracen's pressure or if it's international English pressure. Saracen's have a have a have a. On the pitch, they are serious competitors. I would think that while watching the game, they squeeze Leinster and Leo said they got spooked, but before they got spooked, I think they were absolutely rattled. But that's what happens in a big game, like it's a game of cat and mouse at times, but the game of cat and mouse in this instant didn't last very long because it was Saracen.
Saracen Saracen's usually it's three points. Each one scored and the other team, which was just a flurry of punches thrown by Saracen's that Leinster couldn't get out of.
I'm not sure when the Irish players became the most is the interesting thing, though. Even the World Cup review, there was talk of the mental preparation not being strong enough. You just wonder like they're not executing.
That's a different, I think, debate altogether. I think the World Cup, as we've discussed on our money at the World Cup preparation cycle, I don't think for me what was interesting in this game is that it's a club game, but it's a lot of international players playing a club game. Yes. Well, English and French teams, for example, would be, you know, meters 14, whatever teams in both countries. But in Ireland, there's four teams older than those guys play for the national team.
So it's a you don't really have a lot of clubs in England or France loaded with international players. You have a selection of overseas and French fries, all the all the more reason that Leinster should cope.
You know, if they're internationals and they're used to big games, I don't know.
I haven't I haven't heard a great explanation yet from anyone, to be honest. I'm putting you on the spot a little bit here we are absolutely knocking my last 20 minutes.
No better, man.
Look, I mean, I'm teasing it out. I'm testing what you're saying. And then because it's interesting, you know, and I don't quite know why this would happen.
If that's the case, then you can program the robots, correct? I think, you know, maybe that's another debate for itself. A another day deadfall, like the movement generally, as they call it, France or the structured play versus the unstructured play. No structured and simple Saracen's play. But how effective is it? Because you get boyin from every single person. It's knowing they're all doing their role.
And actually, I mean, resetting, playing the next moment we said play the next moment. But that's that's average if it's a fifteen or twenty three.
But if you get fifteen guys doing that becomes very powerful. Yeah. But it's very hard to achieve that.
I'm sure it is so very, very last one. I've gone over time here. That's my fault. Sorry.
Very last question then as usual and far less to go to Twickenham then. So key things you'd like to see from an Irish team in Twickenham. I think they've gone to Twickenham, excites every Irish, are the supporters, you may dread that occasion, but I can guarantee you if you're if you're a player in New Jersey, there's no bigger test. There's no better stadia. The stadium to go test yourself.
Now, I get that. But I have memories of the last day, which wasn't good. So how do they prevent that? I don't think they will know.
Rugby players are very good at wiping the slate and kind of focusing on the seven day process in terms of what's ahead of them.
You know, you can't be dwelling on the past because as you say, you know, as you said, I was sorry, as I said to dominating as the All Blacks is like an eternity ago. It's a long, long time ago. You got to stay in the know. But it'll be an opportunity for a lot of guys, because I think, as we've seen, there are lots of places up for grabs and the Irish team and we won't get into that sure.
Discussion tonight, but it makes for so much to play for for a lot of players.
And with obviously the situation, I suppose, the negativity around the whole game at the minute, it makes for four, four interesting times for everyone.
It goes well. There's France away in the meantime as well. So, look, we'll pick it up again and then we'll throw the ball around a little bit. Wrona guard, brilliant stuff. Thanks so much.
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