Subscriber OnlyRugbyThe Offload

French media hail Jamison Gibson-Park ‘the new boss of Leinster, a worthy successor to Sexton’

The Offload: Jacques Nienaber’s influence seen as crucial in ending La Rochelle’s European reign

Vincent Bissonet, writing for Midi Olympique’s website, lamented the fact that La Rochelle never got into the match in any sustained way outside of the pressure they managed to exert in first-half injury-time when they scored their only try of the game through prop Louis Penverne. “As a result, Ronan O’Gara’s men had few balls to exploit, offensively speaking.

“And moreover, even with the ball in hand, they frequently found themselves under pressure, both on their maul attempts, with their frequently hassled launch plays. The kicking game could have been an interesting alternative but, used very little, it did not make it possible to exploit the free spaces. Much of the credit for this goes to the Leinster men’s aggressive defence instilled by Jacques Nienaber.”

Nicolas Zinardi, in the same publication, singled out Leinster’s Jamison Gibson-Park and James Lowe for special mention. “For this fifth match in the saga between European giants, the Leinster men finally took their revenge on the title holders thanks to an extraordinary performance from the Kiwi duo Lowe/Gibson-Park while, on the La Rochelle side, the usual leaders suffered considerably.”

Only Levani Botia was absolved from the general torpor of the La Rochelle performance while the writer under the heading ‘Flops’ singled out Tawera Kerr Barlow, captain Grégory Alldritt and Uini Atonio for substandard contributions compared to their traditional quality.


In Sud Ouest, under the heading ‘Leinster teaches a terrible lesson to La Rochelle’ Benjamin Deudon wrote: “This time, the Rochelais did not survive. If the difference in the score between the two teams had never exceeded nine points (32-23 in the semi-final, in 2021), it took on proportions this Saturday, at the Aviva Stadium, reflecting the current difference between the Leinster and Stade Rochelais.

“After ending their rivals’ 16-match unbeaten run in the Champions Cup in December, the Irish here stopped Les Maritimes’ series of 10 straight victories in the knock-out phase – a first in this competition – without there being anything to say.”

L’Equipe ran the headline, ‘La Rochelle will quickly have to digest the slap received against Leinster’ as reporter Yann Sternis conveyed the scene at the final whistle in Dublin. He wrote: “The image is all the more striking as their supporters had lost the habit of seeing it: dazed Rochelais at the edge of the pitch, hands on hips staring into space, greeting their opponents while giving the impression of not no longer being there even though the final whistle had sounded a handful of minutes earlier.”

Elsewhere the French sports paper offered the following eulogy to Leinster scrumhalf Jamison Gibson-Park. “Scorer of a hat-trick against Leicester a week earlier in the round of 16, the international scrumhalf once again produced a remarkable display.

“He constantly ensured that his team played with a high tempo which suited him well and allowed him to dictate the game. The Irish international was instrumental in Lowe’s opening try, scoring the second try and boosting his team’s attacking play.

“He came off to a standing ovation at the Aviva Stadium eight minutes from time, Gibson-Park is indeed the new boss of Leinster, a worthy successor to [Johnny] Sexton.”

By the Numbers: 1

Scott Bemand’s Ireland team racked up their first victory in the Six Nations Championship with a 36-5 win over Wales on foot of an excellent performance.

Word of Mouth

“Jamison is unbelievable. He is a joy to play with. He keeps the tempo so high, and he is so unpredictable but plays within our plan at the same time. The boys are all about running lines off him.” – Leinster captain Caelan Doris on his scrumhalf Jamison Gibson-Park.

Ballyclare hold off battling Monkstown comeback to seal AIL spot

Ballyclare will enjoy senior rugby next season in the Energia All-Ireland League Division 2C after they beat Leinster champions Monkstown 33-28 in the AIL Provincial League Championship final at Navan.

Mike Orchin-McKeever’s side went into the final as favourites having won both the All-Ireland men’s Junior Cup and Ulster Rugby Championship Division One titles for the first time, but it required an injury-time try at the end of the match to rescue this win.

Despite falling behind to a John Dever try, Ballyclare hit back through Alex Darrah and Matthew Coulter, coupled with Matthew McDowell’s accurate goal-kicking, to give them a 23-7 half-time lead.

Monkstown rallied impressively, with three second-half tries, including back-to-back efforts from forwards Conor Hurley and Schalk Jooste. A famous comeback victory was on the cards for Paddy Thornton’s men, with Jooste crossing in the 76th minute to give the Dubliners a 28-26 lead. However, there was just enough time for centre Joel McBride to hit back.

The Ballyclare skipper broke through for the decisive try right at the death. McDowell converted to finish with 18 points, a crucial haul in such a high-stakes game as a promotion final. Monkstown have a second crack at getting back into senior club rugby for the first time since 2003 when they travel to face Bangor in a playoff on April, 27th.