Ronan O'Gara (file pic). Alamy Stock Photo
getting better

Ronan O'Gara's struggling La Rochelle edge Bordeaux-Begles

Elsewhere, Montpellier appointed controversial former France head coach Bernard Laporte as director of rugby hours after the 23-16 loss to Perpignan.

LA ROCHELLE prepared for Siya Kolisi’s Racing 92 debut next weekend with a 25-21 win over Bordeaux-Begles on Sunday in the French Top 14.

Ronan O’Gara’s side moved up to eighth in the table with just their third win of the season, a week before facing Racing in Kolisi’s expected first game for the Parisians.

Bordeaux-Begles dropped to 10th with their fourth loss of the campaign.

“I think we’ve started our season now, it will do us a lot of good, it was an important victory,” O’Gara told broadcaster Canal+.

“We’re in a tough period but I’m very proud of the players, and the crowd.”

France winger Damian Penaud made his first Bordeaux-Begles start after his move from Clermont as ex-New Zealand scrum-half Tawera Kerr-Barlow captained La Rochelle, two-time Champions Cup holders under former Ireland fly-half O’Gara.

Penaud’s outfit led 9-8 at the break thanks to three penalties from his Test and club team-mate Matthieu Jalibert, while hooker Pierre Bourgarit crossed from a rolling maul for the hosts.

Penaud set up centre Nicolas Depoortere before crossing for a superb effort of his own after a Jalibert cross-kick and Bordeaux-Begles led 21-8 with 25 minutes to play.

But La Rochelle claimed victory thanks to Samoa centre UJ Seuteni’s try and Bourgarit’s second, as 19-year-old replacement fly-half Hugo Reus slotted two conversions.

Reus then completed the comeback against their Atlantic coast rivals with a long-range penalty to make it 25-21 with nine minutes to go, mirroring his impressive goal-kicking efforts in last weekend’s win over Bayonne.

South Africa’s two-time World Cup-winning captain Kolisi joined his new club in the French capital two weeks ago after lifting the Webb Ellis trophy last month in the same city.

- ‘Missing part’ -

On Saturday, he watched their 13-9 Parisian derby win over Stade Francais from the stands.

“I can’t wait to play, honestly. That’s the missing part,” Kolisi told Canal+ earlier on Sunday.

“Being on the field is what I’m looking forward to most.”

Elsewhere, Montpellier appointed controversial former France head coach Bernard Laporte as director of rugby hours after the 23-16 loss to Perpignan left the 2022 champions bottom of the table.

Laporte resigned from his position as French Rugby Federation president in January after being found guilty of favouritism in awarding a shirt sponsorship contract for the national side to Mohed Altrad, Montpellier’s billionaire owner.

Test rugby’s most capped player in former Wales and British and Irish Lions captain Alun Wyn Jones made the final appearance of his career on Saturday as Toulon edged Clermont 30-27 for their first win at the Stade Marcel-Michelin in eight years.

– © AFP 2023

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