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The Rochelais stadium managed a tour de force on Sunday by dismissing the Irish ogre from Leinster to join Stade Toulouse in the final of the European Rugby Cup. This will be the first Franco-French duel at this level of competition since 2015.
Cap crossed. La Rochelle dominated the Irish of Leinster (32-23), Sunday, May 2 in Charente-Maritime, and joined Stade Toulouse in the final of the European Cup, for a sixth confrontation between French clubs at this level of the competition.
The last final between French clubs dated back to 2015, during the success of Toulon in front of Clermont (24-18) at Twickenham. No French team has won the trophy since.
The Rochelais cracked the Leinster in the last quarter of an hour with tests from the third row of the XV of France, Grégory Alldritt, and of the second Australian row, Will Skelton.
Leinster also scored two tries, but New Zealand opener from La Rochellek, Ihaia West, weighed in on the Yellow and Blacks victory with a drop and a 7/7 in front of the pole vaults.
The Maritimes will therefore experience their first final in the competition on May 22 at Twickenham. Stade Toulousain, which will play its first final since 2010 and its victory over Biarritz (21-19), will have the opportunity to win a fifth title and thus beat the record in the competition.
The Rouge et Noir so far share the record with Leinster, who won their four titles between 2009 and 2018.
The two best teams of the Top 14
Favorites in terms of experience at the Marcel-Deflandre stadium, the Leinstermen gave in when they were outnumbered in the second half, after the yellow card inflicted on winger James Lowe.
Yet novices at this level of the competition, the Maritimes spoke about the power of their pack of forwards to increase the pressure at the end of the game. They had the advantage of having two men who knew the “Boys in Blue” well.
Their New Zealand sporting director Jono Gibbes was for six seasons, from 2008 to 2014, the Leinster forwards coach. As for Irish coach Ronan O’Gara, he has faced the Dubliners on numerous occasions, having spent his entire playing career in the rival province of Munster.
The final will pit the two best current teams in the Top 14 against each other: Stade Toulouse is the leader with five points ahead of its La Rochelle runner-up, who has one game less.