Ireland 21-23 South Africa, Aviva Stadium, November 6
O'Gara pleads with Ireland fans
November 7, 2010
Ronan O'Gara has called for fans to get behind Ireland © Getty Images
Ireland fly-half Ronan O'Gara has pleaded with fans to dig deep in support of the national team despite the miserable economic climate.
Only 35,515 turned out to see Ireland lose 23-21 to South Africa in the first Test at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, leaving 16,000 empty seats at the newly-redeveloped Lansdowne Road.
Ireland's gala occasion was ruined by the Irish Rugby Football Union's greedy ticketing strategy, which only allowed fans to buy two-match packages costing £166 or £131.
"It's strange...the whole economic situation has affected people really badly, more than people appreciate. It's probably only going to get worse," O'Gara, who won his 100th Ireland cap in the defeat, said.
"I don't know how many were there yesterday but there were empty seats all over the stadium. It's probably a sign of things to come. Next week I don't know how many thousand will be there for Samoa...it's reality and is something everyone has to look at in terms of getting pricing right. We need the supporters - it's because of them that Ireland have been so good for so long.
"At the old Lansdowne Road there was an unbelievable atmosphere, so passionate and driven. We have to get those days back. Emotionally Ireland's greatest tool has been their fans. They've been so good to this team and we need them back. We need them more than ever. We miss them."
O'Gara hit the post with a late conversion attempt that could have tied the scores and while the result did not go his way, he expressed his pride at becoming Ireland's third Test centurion.
"I'm very proud to have won 100 caps," he said. "It's great to have followed Brian O'Driscoll and John Hayes into the history books. They're two good friends and great players.
"I'm delighted to achieve it. It was a big day for my family and for Munster too. It's a good achievement to reach 100 caps because very few players have done it. I'm very lucky. I enjoyed having an impact but it's just a pity it didn't change the outcome because I play sport to win."
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