French have to hand it to O'Gara and his 'magic glove' plan

Calling in hurling outfitters in a bid to get Tawera Kerr-Barlow on the pitch to face Leinster catches the Gallic attention 
French have to hand it to O'Gara and his 'magic glove' plan

Technology working miracles?: Ronan O'Gara, head coach of La Rochelle, celebrates with Wiaan Liebenberg (L) and Tawera Kerr-Barlow after their victory during the Heineken Champions Cup Semi-Final. Photo: (David Rodgers / Getty)

The diligent efforts of La Rochelle boss Ronan O’Gara to get his most experienced scrum-half back in time for Saturday’s Champions Cup final against Leinster have made quite the impression in France.

Tawera Kerr-Barlow suffered two fractured bones in his left hand in the semi-final win over Racing 92 in Lens a fortnight ago and seemed set to miss the European showpiece - only returning in time for the Top 14 final, if La Rochelle made it that far.

But O’Gara wasn’t ready to give in quite so easily and turned to a Munster supplier of hurling equipment to see if a specially made glove would allow the 2015 World Cup-winner to play in Marseille.

The Irish Examiner’s story made headlines in France, with Le Figaro saying Kerr-Barlow “could play in the final thanks to a magic glove”.

Sud Ouest, the regional paper that has La Rochelle in its circulation area, also picked up on the story. In an article headlined 'What if Tawera Kerr-Barlow finally plays the final?' added that World Rugby’s laws allow players to wear fingerless gloves.

Under the headline 'How an Irish-made glove could help Kerr-Barlow face Leinster' Rugbyrama pointed out Tommy Bowe had worn a similar glove in 2013, while Andrew Trimble, Fergus McFadden and Hugo Keenan had played while wearing gloves more usually used by hurling or hockey players — a fact repeated by Actu Rugby, which described the Examiner’s article as a “bombshell”.

“Technology sometimes works miracles,” Actu Rugby’s Simon Galinier wrote, saying that Kerr-Barlow’s early return, if the glove works, could change the dynamic of Saturday’s match “against the ogre of Leinster”

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