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The 'profound' Leinster verdict on the departing Stuart Lancaster

(Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Jamison Gibson-Park says Stuart Lancaster will be dearly missed as Leinster bid to give the former England head coach a fitting send-off by clinching European glory. Lancaster, who has served as a senior coach under Leo Cullen since 2016, will leave the Irish province at the end of the season to become director of rugby at French club Racing 92.


Leinster’s final shot at lifting silverware before the 53-year-old heads to Paris comes on Saturday evening when they take on La Rochelle in the final of the Heineken Champions Cup in Dublin.

“He has had a profound effect on my career – and I’m probably not alone in saying that – with regards to what he has done here at Leinster,” scrum-half Gibson-Park said of Lancaster, who will be replaced by South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber.

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“It’s been incredible really. The turnaround from the start, the consistency throughout, his mindset have just been awesome. For me, it personally changed a lot of things in my outlook on rugby.

“That is across the board with the rest of the team as well. He has had a pretty massive impact on me and we will miss him dearly. Hopefully, he goes well over in Racing.”


Leinster have a chance for redemption against La Rochelle 12 months on from a painful last-gasp 24-21 loss to the French side in the 2022 final in Marseille. Having suffered a semi-final exit to rivals Munster in the URC last weekend, Cullen’s men will attempt to end the campaign on a high at the Aviva Stadium ahead of a handful of notable departures.

In addition to the imminent exit of Lancaster, who contributed to Champions Cup success in 2018 and four URC titles, long-serving wing Dave Kearney and injured captain Johnny Sexton are heading towards retirement.


Asked if giving Englishman Lancaster a trophy to leave with was an extra incentive, Gibson-Park said: “I don’t think he would expect us to think of it that way but obviously Stu is moving on and a few other guys are finishing up as well.

“It’s obviously an incentive but there is a performance you have to get right before you start worrying about that stuff. We will be focused on that but sure there are some guys that deserve a pretty good send-off.”

Leinster are hoping to equal Toulouse’s record of five Champions Cup titles by exacting revenge on Ronan O’Gara’s side. Ireland international Gibson-Park has returned to the starting XV alongside a host of other star names after head coach Cullen opted to rest them for last weekend’s surprise 16-15 defeat by Munster.

“It’s finals rugby and it’s win or die,” he said. “Small margins. We will just be chasing a performance and that is the most important thing for us, to try and get that right. Obviously, it’s very tough with a team as good as they are so it is going to be challenging but we are looking forward to it.”


Asked if Leinster will alter their style due to the formidable size of the opposition’s pack, he added: “We won’t be changing things drastically, I don’t think. But you have got to be smart around how you attack them so we will see how we go.”


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