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The 'devastated' Leinster reaction to latest Champions Cup final loss

Toulouse's Matthis Lebel dives over to score in extra time (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen admitted his players would have to show character to overcome the crushing disappointment of losing a third consecutive Investec Champions Cup final.


Toulouse scaled the summit of European rugby for an unprecedented sixth time after finishing strongly in a 31-22 victory at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium that needed extra time to separate the rivals.

Antoine Dupont was outstanding for the French champions, who had the boot of Thomas Ramos to thank for pushing them clear after the first 80 minutes finished 15-15.

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John Plumtree on the challenges SA teams face when heading to Europe

Sharks head coach John Plumtree said a lot still needs to be done to ensure that South African teams do not face logistical issues in future European tournaments.

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John Plumtree on the challenges SA teams face when heading to Europe

Sharks head coach John Plumtree said a lot still needs to be done to ensure that South African teams do not face logistical issues in future European tournaments.

With the United Rugby Championship still in play, Leinster must now recover quickly from another narrow defeat in the final having lost to La Rochelle in 2022 and 2023.

“Everyone is devastated. We’ve been on the losing side on a few occasions now,” Cullen said. “We need to see what we’re all made of now, as hard as that will be. We’ll process it and move on to the next challenge against Connacht at the RDS on Friday night. They won’t make life easy for us.

Investec Champions Cup
22 - 31
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“The lads have been immense in the character they have shown and they probably need to show a bit of character now because you get the sense of what’s coming when you lose another final. We have to be able to deal with that ourselves.

“There’s not a lack of belief that we can do this, it’s just making sure that we stick at it because we will get across the line.”


Leinster replacement Ciaran Frawley kicked the penalty that ensured extra time, but he was also narrowly wide with a late drop-goal attempt that would have snatched victory.

“It comes down to the finest thing. There was a drop goal at the end and if that goes a metre to the right then we’re having a very different conversation here. That’s the nature of sport at the top end,” Cullen said.

“I’m not sure the game got away from us. It was a very tight contest. We had some really positive passages of play. Toulouse scrambled well and came up with big moments defensively and that was the difference.

“The lads were immense out there and kept firing shots throughout but didn’t get the rewards for lots of difference reasons. We poured a lot into it. We just felt we’re so close to breaking them and most people in the stadium would have that sense.”




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Jon 30 days ago

That was a terrible performance by the officials, that game took forever to finish.

You still might put a few of Leinsters brain fades down to exhaustion during overtime however, what was Keenan thinking taking the ball out in touch and then soon after letting Dupont find touch. Possibly put Larmour’s explosion in that category giving away the try?

Also making a farce of the substation laws not being able to get someone on immediately, especially with the fact it couldn’t have been with who he replaced.

Wait this article is not really about the game? Oh well, fitting of a final even if you really have no idea who the best team was from it. Can sure say Leinster are kings in Europe though, most consistent is what really matters. They’ll really have to find something once they loss JGP Low and Henshaw though, teams for of amazing players but those three are instrumental to the team (well maybe not if JN changes their style even more).

Nool 30 days ago

Their arrogance is showing every time. They feel entitled to win, rugby trophies are the yardstick. The same like their national team, D,bags

Brakkenjan 30 days ago

I’m a bit confused now. Didn’t that “world renowned” rugby pundit Brian O Driscoll recently refer to Leinster as the Champions Cup champions? What black magic is this!?

Craig 30 days ago

Stormers, Bulls and Sharks keep losing top players to the North and we have many guys playing in Japan.
SA could put 3xBok sides that would be very strong.
Leinster went for the drop instead of forcing a penalty while trying to score.

JPM 31 days ago

Apart from his overinflated rush defense, Nienaber brought very little to the Leinster table.

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Mzilikazi 1 hours ago
Is Ireland versus South Africa a battle for the title of ‘world champions’?

Very good article, Nic, and I find agreement with what you write virtually 100%. I think this two mach series has increasingly become one which will be very difficult for Ireland to win. After the first game of the last 6N, I would have been very full of confidence taking on the Boks in SA. France beaten by a big margin in France, it looked as if Ireland had emerged in fine form from the World Cup, despite the very narrow loss to the AB’s. But after that game, a slide began, ending with the defeat to England. Ireland were very fortunate to win this years 6N ! And as you so fully expose, this has not been a good season for Leinster, or indeed, in my view, for any Irish province. The Leinster loos to the Bulls, and then Munster letting a glorious chance slip to the Glasgow Warriors down at Thomond. Man, that one will really hurt. And both Connacht and Ulster have at times looked very poor this seaso, bith heavily beaten on occassion. The loss of both Gibson Park and Keenan are huge blows, especially Gibson Park. And there is really only one clear class 10 in the touring party, Jack Crowley, and he is still a very young player learning his trade. If he goes down, heaven help Ireland. And in my view, Ireland do not have a good scrummaging front row, SA do, and in great depth too. But despite all this doom and gloom, I always believe my team can win. Not that they will win, just can ! Ireland will still field what is the best and most talented team overall that I have seen in my lifetime. But the coaching group will really have to step up, no awful decisions like the one made against the AB’s in the QF….keeping the totally spent and poorly performing(on the day) Sexton on for the full 80mins, leaving Crowley on the sidelines. Ireland should never have lost that game !

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Shaylen 4 hours ago
Is Ireland versus South Africa a battle for the title of ‘world champions’?

Ireland have all the tools required to hurt SA. They develop quick ball, hold onto the ball for long periods, stretch the game when its on, have powerful mobile forwards, a good kicking game and they can hold their own in the scrum. They also can force turnovers regularly and in general do well at the breakdown. When Munster, the Ospreys and Glasgow all won games in SA this year against the Bulls and Stormers they did just that and won. It is also the reason why Ireland won the game at the world cup last year. The problem for Ireland is that SA have all the tools required to hurt them as well and hurt them a great deal more than England did in the Six Nations. They are physical and powerful at the set piece, they rush up and counter the Irish attacking system and they can really attack the breakdown and slow your ball down. Their counterattacking threat is also a big weapon and they score many tries from turnover turning defence into offence in a second. Toulouse and the Bulls nailed Leinster in this way and Glasgow did the same thing to Munster. So the series will be really interesting because both sides are so good at countering each other. Interested to see what kind of surprises Tony Brown springs and how the SA game develops. Feel like SA have more potential to surprise Ireland but then a new coaching set up as well as the fact that Japanese and foreign based players tend to take about 5 to 6 weeks to get up to speed might work in Irelands favour. SA have shipped at least one game in 4 of the last 5 June/July test windows going back to 2018 for this exact reason.

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Flankly 6 hours ago
'Let them keep talking' - Mike Catt claps back over Bok remarks

The comments were reported weirdly. De Allende did say it would be war, but he said it amidst comments like “Ireland play such good footy”, and “they are so good at the breakdown”. He said that the Boks lost heavily to Ireland a few years back and that they felt the Irish press was dismissive of the Boks. I don’t recall that, but I suppose it is true, and that SA players would want to turn around that sentiment. The RWC loss to Ireland would naturally pour fuel on the fire. In short, it is a natural thing for passionate players like him to feel very strongly about the goal of registering a convincing series win against Ireland. There is really nothing to see here. As an aside, the SA team shouldn’t be too self-righteous about this kind of a situation. Recall that in 2004, after SA won the Ireland series in SA, Jake White noted that no more than two Irish players were good enough for selection in his Bok side. "Considering the facts, I think only two of their players would be included in the Bok team - O'Driscoll (centre) and maybe one of the locks. How could we have lost against the Irish?" O’Driscoll disagreed and said that it was close, and Ireland were just tired. My Irish friends were pretty incensed by the comments, quite rightly. And I am sure it was part of the energy that drove them to some famous wins against the Boks. The Etzebeth thing was a little different. I think he was just not hearing what was being said. It is not that unusual for someone to say “We will see you in the final”. Of course it is a statement of confidence, which every team should have, but it is also a compliment. I think there was a cultural fly-by, in which a “see you soon” comment was taken to mean “we will beat you again”. But it was a good story, and a convenient clickbaity headline. I don’t think anyone is intentionally trying to rile up anything. But if you interview a Bok player and prod them about their passion wrt the Ireland tour, you are likely to hear some pretty heartfelt words. And so you should.

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