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Antoine Dupont inspires Toulouse to European glory in extra time epic

By PA
Antoine Dupont of Stade Toulousain lifts the Investec Champions Cup after his team's victory during the Investec Champions Cup Final match between Leinster Rugby and Stade Toulousain at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on May 25, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Leinster were unable to shed their losing habit in Investec Champions Cup finals after they were edged 31-22 by Toulouse with only extra time separating the rivals at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

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The two most successful teams in the competition’s history went toe to toe in a thunderous collision that was scarred by too many errors to be a classic, but was captivating nonetheless.

Despite the perfect conditions neither side were able to score a try until Toulouse’s Matthis Lebel struck early in a period of extra time that created a series of momentum shifts all of its own.

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The French champions were helped by James Lowe being shown a yellow card for a deliberate knock-on, but that advantage was quickly wiped out when lock Richie Arnold was sent off.

Thomas Ramos provided the decisive points, with three penalties taking them out of reach as Toulouse came on strong despite being a man down.

Fixture
Investec Champions Cup
Leinster
22 - 31
Full-time
Toulouse
All Stats and Data

It was hard to endure for the hoards of Leinster fans in the 61,531 crowd, who have now seen their side lose to French opposition in three consecutive finals and whose last sight of silverware was the 2021 United Rugby Championship.

Toulouse were on the ropes for long spells, yet they made the stronger start by going close to touching down and then creeping ahead through two Blair Kinghorn penalties.

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Ross Byrne’s penalty rewarded a promising spell for Leinster, who then attacked with precision off a scrum only for Toulouse to show their breakdown expertise for the second of Robbie Henshaw’s two breaks.

That skill also came to the red shirts’ rescue on the half-hour mark after Dan Sheehan had pick-pocketed the ball from Antoine Dupont during a pre-planned move and almost won the race for the line, but Kinghorn made a crucial tackle and Dupont then won the turnover.

Kinghorn and Byrne exchanged penalties to send Leinster into half-time 9-6 down despite their dominance of territory and possession, as well as every other attacking metric.

For all their entries into the opposition 22 they were often leaving empty-handed, making Byrne’s penalty soon after the interval a positive development.

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Toulouse showed remarkable resilience as they defended their line in a one-sided third quarter, but the failure to capitalise on a dominant period also highlighted Leinster’s inability to build a score.

Kinghorn and Byrne traded kicks once more before three points from replacement Ramos nudged Toulouse in front. Lebel almost crossed in the left corner after the French side attacked with precision off turnover ball.

Leinster senior coach Jacques Nienaber was barking commands from the sideline having taken on the role of waterboy and he watched as Ciaran Frawley landed a penalty to take the match into extra time at 15-15.

Toulouse were the first to strike with a simple but effective try for Lebel that showcased the France wing’s lightning pace as they benefited from Lowe’s sin-binning. Ramos converted.

Arnold was sent off for a dangerous clearout of Cian Healy and the dismissal galvanised Leinster, who surged downfield for Josh van der Flier to cross from close range with Frawley adding the extras.

But Ramos was the next to score with a penalty and the France fly-half coolly proceeded to boot Toulouse out of reach as they scored more points in extra time, 16, than during the 80 minutes.

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Comments

17 Comments
B
Barry 27 days ago

Brilliant advert for NH rugby. It lived up to the billing. Dupont is ridiculous, on both sides of the ball. Never seen a player like him. Tough on either side to lose but fair dues to Toulouse.

H
Henrik 28 days ago

comparing the recent Irish win over France in 6N with yesterday’s game, it seemed to me the Leinster attack was at least one or two gears lower …. they should also work on the psychological side …. it was shocking seeing the panic after Lowe’s yellow card and it proved to be match deciding (ST fared way better with one player less) …. Toulouse didn’t steel the win, but Leinster has themselves to blame for loosing it

N
Nikola 28 days ago

Probably the best club match I’ve watched. Intensity and physicality were test level, very few errors - just joy to watch. Even more so because I wanted ST to triumph. Comiserations to Leinster fans, only one team could have won the trophy but Leinster were worthy of this great match.

T
Tom 28 days ago

You hear all the time about how French teams don't train as hard as other nations and yet they were the ones who finishes strongest and won in extra time. That was a very fast paced game and Toulouse had no issues with fitness after 100 minutes.

P
Piotr 28 days ago

It’s crazy that most comments here are coming from people whose teams or country of origin were not in the final and who are jubilant about the loss of one of them.
And assess their own human value based on that.

The team that I support won. But guess what? I was not on the pitch.
And my own value doesn’t depend on wether Toulouse wins or not.

So imagine being dependent on the result of a team that has nothing to do with the one you support, but that enters the debate on who’s the best team in the world.

Guys, that’s not being tough and proud.
That just kindergarten and fragility.

L
Liam 29 days ago

Choke under pressure? Very surprising! Lol not really

J
JPM 29 days ago

Toulouse on the top of Europe (and SA) with their sixth title

c
craig 29 days ago

DEFINITION OF CHOKE

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