With the dust settling on an incredible season for Irish rugby, which saw the national team win the Grand Slam and Munster bridge a 12-year wait for silverware, Leinster will be somewhere in post-mortem mode following their Champions Cup final loss.

Over in France the battle for the Bouclier de Brennus is on-going and La Rochelle, Leinster's conquerers, are still in the mix. On Saturday, Ronan O'Gara's side face Bordeaux in the semi-final with the winner taking on either Toulouse or Racing 92.

And in a wide-ranging interview, La Rochelle skipper Gregory Alldritt has spoken about their famous victory in Dublin, the disrespect he felt was shown to his club, the tunnel incident at half-time and the influence of O'Gara, who joined the club in 2019.

In the hours and days following the final, the La Rochelle camp let it be known that they had felt disrespected.

O'Gara remarked that some of the Leinster fans went over the top as the team bus was on its way to the Aviva Stadium.

Alldritt said Leinster captain James Ryan didn't look him in the eye during the coin toss; there was a incident in the tunnel at half-time with O'Gara, non-playing captain Johnny Sexton, and Leinster coach Sean O'Brien exchanging words, while in the press conference the La Rochelle boss said the room provided for the squad for the post-match gathering was not sufficient.

He felt that although the venue was neutral, La Rochelle were, in effect, treated like an away team.

The possibility that these various minor complaints were over-egged by O'Gara to create a siege mentality within his team has been mooted. Either way, using the slights - real, imagined or exaggerated - to motivate them clearly worked.

Speaking on Le French Rugby podcast, Alldritt was asked how real the disgruntlement was.

"It was a genuine feeling but not only [was it] Leinster, to be honest, it was a lot of clubs, [think] La Rochelle is still a little club but now maybe we will be considered like a big club," said the number 8.

"After all that happens around the game it doesn't matter at the end but, of course, we are a club who respects a lot the other team and we just want to be on the same level as them."

Tournament organisers, European Professional Club Rugby opened an investigation into the half-time tunnel incident after the game.

Reports suggested that some manner of stand-off ensued around the referee's dressing room and Alldritt came on the scene at the end of the incident.

"When I arrived in the tunnel it was the end of it so I just took everybody and said, 'come on, guys, we don't need that'. This is the staff's job, just the players [have] to keep focussed."

As of yesterday, EPCR had "no comment" to make on the status of their investigation.

Footage later emerged of Sexton, after the final whistle, walking towards Peyper and appearing to shout at him, suggesting Leinster felt hard done by some of the decisions.

"You don't need to lose a lot of energy with the ref," said the 26-year-old France international.

"That was the speech from everybody. 'No excuses, guys, the ref will not win the game for us. Leinster will not lose the game for us. It's up to us to go on the pitch and give everything to win it'.

"Of course, in the first half, if you look at the referee you will see maybe some decisions against us, which is 50-50 and the other side the same.

"Always the same, when you lose a game you look at the refereeing and when you win you don't look at it.

"I felt there was mistakes on both sides and it's normal, the referee is human, he can't be 100%.

"I didn't feel like we were [favoured above] Leinster."

Alldritt also felt that the list for the European player of the year, which he himself won, didn't reflect what his side had brought to the tournament.

The original 15-man long list contained just Alldritt from Stade Rochelais, and four from Leinster, three of whom, Josh van der Flier, Garry Ringrose and Caelan Doris – alongside Antoine Dupont of Toulouse – made the shortlist.

"When you arrive at the end of the final and you have three Leinster men in the final five and only one La Rochelle guy...I think Levani Botia could have been European player of the year, Will Skelton, Uini Atonio, so many players," he said.

In what turned out to be one of the greatest Champions Cup finals ever played, La Rochelle found themselves 17-0 down after just 12 minutes before mounting a steady, inexorable comeback to win by a point, 27-26, to retain their title.

Alldritt revealed that they were fully prepared for what Leinster threw at them at the start and never panicked.

"We knew from the last two games against Leinster they are a team who starts the game really strong," he said.

"The first 20 minutes against them are really tough.

"Just before the game I said to the guys, 'if we are 20 points down or 20 points up, just stay focussed and stay on the strategy and you'll see everything will go well'.

"And we were joking after the game because that's exactly what happened because we were 17-nil down.

"When I was under the posts, no [panic] just [out-half] Antoine Hastoy saying, 'okay, we are going to kick there, pressure there, we stay over there'.

"Everybody was focussed on their job. When you have people like this it's really easy to focus the guys.

"We are sure of our strength and last year we had a tough first 20 minutes and two years ago the same so we know that.

"Lots of players wanted to lift this cup really [bad]. To be in a stadium [where the crowd are] against you, that gives your strength, just your family there and you.

"One point, really important, that Rog said before the game as well, it's that we are here to do a job, to do business, no emotion, he doesn't want emotion.

"He didn't talk to us about family, it was only a job, business, stay focussed and keep the emotion for Sunday."

Two tries helped La Rochelle claw the deficit back to 23-14 at the break and Alldritt revealed how calm the half-time chat was.

"First of all we arrived in the changing room and everybody have a seat, have a breath, calm down, calm down, stay here," he said.

"The first reflex is maybe to go and to talk to him, talk to him. No, just have a seat and calm down.

"Normally Antoine takes a speech on the strategy, after we've got some players speaking about lineouts and stuff like this so everybody is still focussed on the job.

"Afterwards Rog comes in and says, 'guys, it was 17-nil and now it's 23-14 so the last 20 minutes it was 14-6 [to us]. Keep going, keep going, last year we were eight points behind, now we are nine behind, it's nothing new for us'."

The visitors held out a goal-line siege towards the end and Alldritt revealed the blessing to "party hard" that the team received from O'Gara.

"It was insane, insane," he said of the scenes at the end.

"Same feeling as last year. You don't realise when you are still on the field but coming back to La Rochelle, seeing all the fans in the harbour and cheering for us was really deep.

"[Subsequently] texts from French rugby [people], from old coaches and you kind of start to realise what we did in Dublin.

"Winning the first title in Marseille was emotional for the club but the second one, winning against Leinster in Dublin after being 17 points behind. This creates a magic around the second one but honestly impossible to choose between both.

"We have a... fantastic club and fantastic staff [and] because we won it last year, they could have said, 'come on, guys, it's normal'. No, it's not normal.

"That was the words of Rog, like, 'guys, you did something, it's not normal. You worked hard for it so party hard for maybe four or five days and then we'll get back to work and prepare the rest of the season but just realise that there is nothing normal in what you did'.

"I think it was a good speech.

"We stopped on the Wednesday night. That's the tradition here. We end with a barbecue at Rog's place.

"All the players and staff go over there and have a barbecue with him, the families and this is the end of the celebration and get back to training on Thursday.

"Rog's speech was 'guys, it was incredible to party [like] that but now I want you to be really focused and no more party, no more drinking until the [semi-final]'."

Alldritt, who has 39 caps with Les Bleus, also hailed the impact of former Ireland out-half O'Gara, who has now led the club to back-to-back European titles.

He said: "He's been a player and he won the Champions Cup before us. He has two more as a coach and he knows the feeling of winning, he hasn't forgotten that he understands that what we all try to do as a club, administration, the staff, the players, we are all in the same boat, working to the same objectives.

"Of course, Rog made a big improvement to the club.

"Maybe we were seeing ourselves as a small club every time, too much humility, saying we are the underdogs.

"Rog came and said, 'no, look around, look at the team, you are not underdogs, you want to win and you are going to win'.

"He kind of changed the mentality of the club."