Yoan Tanga-Mangene during the Champions Cup match between La Rochelle and Leinster at the Marcel-Deflandre stadium, December 10, 2023. ROMAIN PERROCHEAU / AFP
After tormenting Leinster over the last three seasons, La Rochelle suffered a backlash on Sunday December 10 for its entry into the Rugby Champions Cup. Title holders, the Maritimes lost at home against the Irish club (9-16), at the end of a match where only one try was scored, by Jordan Larmour, for the Irish (12th). The La Rochelle club is forced to console itself with the only point from the defensive bonus.
Under the pouring rain, which fell throughout the match on the pitch of the Marcel-Deflandre stadium, Ronan O’Gara’s players suffered Leinster’s desire for revenge. The Irish players had nightmares about their last meetings with La Rochelle. In 2021, they lost at Marcel-Deflandre in the semi-finals of the competition against Maritimes, who then beat Leinster in the final the following two years.
Read also: Rugby: a new formula, but still no clarity for the Champions Cup
Victory this time eluded the Rochelais, who were far too undisciplined at the start of the match. “We conceded far too many penalties and above all, we were not realistic. We weren’t efficient as usual, which was their strength today. Our biggest worry, usually, is ourselves. And we allowed them to win this match”lamented Rochelais Brice Dulin, named man of the match, at the France 2 microphone after the match.
If La Rochelle scored the first three points of the match through Antoine Hastoy (3rd) – the opening half scored all of his team’s points – Leinster then quickly took the upper hand, taking advantage of the indiscipline and opportunities missed by the Maritimes. The Irish returned to the locker room at the break with a four-point advantage (10-6).
First defeat in the competition since 2021
In the second half, Leinster held on defensively and also obtained an expected revenge against Ronan O’Gara. The Irish coach from La Rochelle played his entire career at Munster, Leinster’s great rival, and his victories against the latter on the Maritimes bench had fueled a certain tension between the two teams over the last two years.
This tension was felt on the Marcel-Deflandre pitch, notably after ten minutes of play, when Jonathan Danty and Joe McCarthy were both sanctioned with a yellow card following the start of a general brawl. Double title holder, the La Rochelle club had not lost in the Champions Cup since the final of the 2021 edition and a defeat against Stade Toulouse.
Ninth in the ranking in the Top 14, the Maritimes aim to achieve the treble on the continental scene but will have to make up for it in the next meetings. Fourth in Pool D – the first four of the four groups qualify for the round of 16 – La Rochelle will travel to South Africa next Saturday to face the Stormers club, who also lost, in Leicester (26-35). ), this Sunday.