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O'Driscoll's 'generous bookies' Champions Cup final prediction

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Xavier Leoty/AFP via Getty Images)

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Brian O’Driscoll has made his prediction for this Saturday’s Heineken Champions Cup final featuring his old club Leinster in action against Ronan O’Gara’s La Rochelle in Marseille. The European showpiece is a rematch of last year’s semi-final which was won by the French club 32-23 at Stade Marcel-Deflandre, but the legendary O’Driscoll is now predicting a very different outcome twelve months later. 

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Put on the spot by RugbyPass, BT Sport pundit O’Driscoll is backing Leinster to deliver at Stade Velodrome. “I think Leinster,” he said when quizzed on which team will be celebrating on Saturday evening in France.  

“On the back of what we have seen it’s very hard to see how if Leinster play that way that even La Rochelle, despite having beaten them last year, will be able to stay with them. But the bookies are being generous on twelve-point favourites for Leinster. It will be six or seven.”

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What gives O’Driscoll the confidence that Leinster will be a far tough proposition for La Rochelle a year after the Irish club were left bruised by the level of physicality they encountered on their last Champions Cup trip to France? That was a game in which they started Ross Byrne and Luke McGrath at half-back, as Johnny Sexton and Jamison Gibson-Park were both injured.  

“I just think the consistency of performance, the big personnel shift, particularly at half-back, (Andrew) Porter moving to the loose, (Caelan) Doris has really come to the fore, and there is the emergence of guys like Ross Molony and Jimmy O’Brien where you might have felt you were a bit light in the second row and wondering what the strength in depth on the wing was. 

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“I just think there is a real consistency of performance over the course of the season. Yes, you can only play the opposition you are up against and Bath have been poor and Montpellier sent a second-string but what they did to Leicester, what they did to Toulouse as well was very, very impressive.

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“If they play with that speed and accuracy against La Rochelle, even the most organised defence can’t deal with that ream of different options in how to play the game coming at you. It’s how they can strike from different facets of play that has been their real strength.”  

  • BT Sport is the home of the European Rugby Champions Cup. The 2021/22 season concludes this weekend with Leinster vs Stade Rochelais live on BT Sport 2 at 4pm on Saturday, May 28. Find out more on how to watch at BT Sport bt.com/sport

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