2023 Stade Rochelais vs Leinster Rugby

Jacques Nienaber's Defensive Mastery Lauded By Leinster Captain James Ryan

Jacques Nienaber's Defensive Mastery Lauded By Leinster Captain James Ryan

James Ryan lauds Jacques Nienaber's defensive prowess, which boosted Leinster to a 16-9 victory over La Rochelle in the 2023-2024 Investec Champions Cup.

Dec 12, 2023 by Philip Bendon
Jacques Nienaber's Defensive Mastery Lauded By Leinster Captain James Ryan

Leinster Rugby’s triumph over archrival La Rochelle in Round 1 of the Investec Champions Cup has brought a wave of appreciation for the impact of former Springboks head coach Jacques Nienaber. 

The Irish team secured a hard-fought 16-9 victory at the Stade Marcel-Deflandre, breaking a recent hoodoo that La Rochelle had held over the Tigers in previous seasons. 

Leinster’s co-captain James Ryan praised Nienaber's influence, particularly highlighting the coach's defensive expertise. 

In an interview with Leinster Rugby TV, Ryan emphasized the need for a different style of play suited to the challenging conditions in France. He noted that playing away in the Champions Cup, especially in France, often hinges on the strength of the defense. 

“We had to play a different type of rugby, it wasn’t the night to play Leinster rugby in,” the co-captain told Leinster Rugby TV after the wet-weather result in France. “We had to play in the right areas and be strong at set-piece. Thankfully, we did enough in the end. 

“When you are playing away in the Champions Cup, away in France, I think it’s your defense that wins you the game. 

“Jacques has made a big impact since he’s come in. It was great. The lads really enjoyed defending out there for each other. It was hugely satisfying."

The victory over La Rochelle showcased the impact of Nienaber's defensive strategies, with the team managing to keep the champions without a try on their home turf. 

Looking ahead, Leinster faces the Sale Sharks at the RDS Arena in their next Champions Cup fixture. 

Ryan acknowledged Sale as a formidable opponent and stressed the importance of a quick turnaround for recovery and preparation. 

With just six days between matches, the focus is on ensuring the team is physically and mentally ready for the upcoming challenge. 

Following the clash with the Sharks, Leinster returns to United Rugby Championship duties with a highly anticipated encounter against Munster at Thomond Park on Dec. 26.