Rugby: La Rochelle follows up with a second defeat and finds itself in difficulty in the Champions Cup

They may be the double defending champion, but the 2023-2024 Champions Cup campaign started on the wrong foot for the Rochelais

Rugby: La Rochelle follows up with a second defeat and finds itself in difficulty in the Champions Cup

They may be the double defending champion, but the 2023-2024 Champions Cup campaign started on the wrong foot for the Rochelais. After losing last Sunday against Leinster (9-16), the La Rochelle club fell again, Saturday December 16, against the Stormers (20-21).

Under the sun in Cape Town (South Africa), the Maritimes were beaten in the last minute of play, following a cruel scenario. After being refused a try from Antoine Hastoy (76th), due to head-to-head contact from prop Joel Sclavi on Brok Harris, South African hooker Venter found himself at the conclusion of a ball worn for testing. Springbok Manie Libbok then gave the Stormers victory with a corner conversion (80th 1).

The title holder in danger

After leading the entire match, the frustration is all the greater for Ronan O'Gara's men as this new defeat puts the Rochelais in danger in Group D of the European championship, which is very tough. Despite two defensive bonuses, the reigning champion could leave the competition prematurely.

“We have to find our identity,” said second row Will Skelton at a press conference. It takes time, it requires cohesion. We are not far from becoming this team again. We lost the first two games, we have two defensive points. We will play our best against Leicester and Sale. »

If they want to hope to validate their ticket for the round of 16, the Maritimes now no longer have the right to make mistakes. Only the first four teams in the group (of 6) will qualify for the rest.

They will need to beat Leicester on January 14, then win against Sale Sharks, current leaders of the English Premiership, on January 21, to hope to dream of a treble. To do this, La Rochelle will have to regain its momentum, in Europe and in France: the Maritimes are currently 9th in the Top 14.