Leinster fluff their lines again as Toulouse crowned champions of Europe

Toulouse celebrate their Champions Cup triumph
Toulouse celebrate their Champions Cup triumph - Reuters/John Sibley

Leinster 22 Toulouse 31 (aet)

Leinster’s increasingly desperate pursuit of a fifth star continues. For a third Investec Champions Cup final in succession, and a fourth since their last triumph in 2018, Leo Cullen’s side once again fell agonisingly short. And one suspects this one will hurt the most.

That this contest will go down in history as the final that restored the European competition to its former glory will offer no consolation to the Irish province.

Instead, it was Toulouse who underscored their status as Europe’s kingpins by landing a record sixth title by snatching victory in extra-time after the two sides had finished 80 minutes locked at 15-15.

The extra 20 minutes served up its own mini-drama, with Toulouse taking advantage of a yellow card for Leinster wing James Lowe to score a try by Matthis Lebel (watch video below), then adding a penalty through Thomas Ramos, only to hand momentum back to Leinster when lock Richie Arnold was sent off for a dangerous tackle to the head of Cian Healy.

The Irish responded with a converted try by Josh van der Flier to reduce their deficit to three points and restore hope to their supporters.

But Toulouse, who had won the previous two finals that had gone into extra-time, in 1996 and 2005, were able to comfortably close the game out in the second period, with Ramos slotting two more penalties.

Central to Toulouse’s effort was a simply stunning performance by Antoine Dupont, who was at the heart of his side’s disruption tactics and delivered sublime moments of high skills and vision. Time and again it was Dupont who emerged from the bottom of the ruck clutching the ball to win a critical penalty. One 50-22 kick, struck like a golfer driving a low ball into the wind and landing inches from the touchline, reminded us why he is the greatest scrum-half talent since Gareth Edwards.

Romain Ntamack controlled his side’s attacking game with aplomb while former Wasps flanker Jack Willis was critical to Tolouse’s breakdown dominance.

Jack Willis holds up Leinster's Josh Van der Flier
Jack Willis (right) holds up Leinster's Josh Van der Flier - AFP/Adrian Dennis

Leinster will be utterly devastated. They had a chance to win in the final minute of normal time, but Ciaran Frawley’s drop-goal attempt slipped wide. Ultimately they were undone by an incredible defensive effort by Toulouse, who physically dominated the breakdown which not only disrupted Leinster’s normally fluid attack but also allowed Blair Kinghorn to land four penalties before Ramos took over the place-kicking duties.

At times the drama seemed overwhelming and even if it was not matched by attacking quality, the ferocity of the collisions and contest for the ball was world-class.

There was no faulting Leinster’s intent, or the intensity of their commitment. The Irish had their own heroes, with No 8 Caelan Doris leading the way and Dan Sheehan, James Lowe and Jamison Gibson-Park also delivering outstanding displays, while their scrum was dominant. But one wonders how they will pick themselves up after another last-gasp defeat.

The Irish province are set up for European success. It is what defines them. That they have consistently been involved in the business end of the competition for over a decade is testament to that, but with each missed opportunity it seems that the pressure to deliver more silverware is the very thing that is holding them back.

After the agony of last year’s final defeat by La Rochelle, despite the advantage of playing at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Cullen and his coaching team had attempted to dilute the burden of expectation last week by talking about enjoying the moment.

Yet once again it appeared to consume their efforts. Do they need to re-invent themselves? Given that Leinster provides the lion’s share of the Ireland side that has won back-to-back Six Nations titles, and have the financial firepower to match the big-spending French sides, now is the time for some introspection.

Ross Byrne is a fine player, but given the talent that surrounds the fly-half it feels like it is time to move on. When Frawley came on, he brought more energy and tempo to the attack.

The hiring of South Africa’s back-to-back World Cup-winning head coach Jacques Nienaber brought with it the expectation that he would be able to provide the nous and hard-edged experience of what it takes to win knock-out matches. But even with Nienaber mimicking Rassie Erasmus’s controversial role as a water-boy on the touchlines of the magnificent Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Leinster were found wanting.

Jacques Nienaber comes on as a waterboy
Jacques Nienaber (left) came on as a waterboy - Getty Images/Sam Barnes

Until they are crowned champions again, this saga is going to run and run and questions will be asked of their mental robustness when it matters most.

Leinster are consistently one of the most ruthless sides in Europe at converting pressure into points from entries into their opponents’ 22, but what defined Toulouse’s triumph was their ability to disrupt and force a series of handling errors.

This was a final that was always going to come down to the finest of margins. That Leinster were able to drag themselves back into the contest twice speaks volumes of their resilience and the arrival of Jordie Barrett and RG Snyman next season should add to their power and attacking options.

“We had plenty of opportunities,” admitted Cullen. “Our guys have poured a lot into this campaign and we’ve unbelievable support that follows us around. We’re devastated we couldn’t get over the line.

“Again, when you’re in these moments of defeat, it’s just about you showing character. Our season isn’t over. (That was) two real quality teams going at it and Toulouse were probably just a bit more clinical.”

Match details

Scoring sequence: 0-3 Kinghorn pen, 0-6 Kinghorn pen, 3-6 Byrne pen, 3-9 Kinghorn pen, 6-9 Byrne pen, H-T: 6-9, 9-9 Byrne pen, 9-12 Kinghorn pen, 12-12 Byrne pen, 12-15 Ramos pen, 15-15 Frawley pen, 15-20 Lebel try, 15-22 Ramos con, 15-25 Ramos pen, 20-25 Van der Flier try, 22-25 Frawley con, 22-28 Ramos pen, 22-31 Ramos pen.

Leinster: H Keenan; J Larmour, R Henshaw, J Osborne, J Lowe; R Byrne (Frawley 69), J Gibson-Park; A Porter (Healy 88, Porter 90), D Sheehan (Kelleher 69), T Furlong (Ala’alatoa 69), J McCarthy, J Jenkins (Ryan 40), R Baird (Conan 59), W Connors (Van der Flier 44), C Doris (c).
Replacements unused: McGrath.
Yellow card: Lowe 81.

Toulouse: B Kinghorn; J Cruz Mallía (Graou 91), P Costes (Ramos 59), P Ahki (Chocobares 22), M Lebel; R Ntamack, A Dupont (c); C Baille (Neti 58), P Mauvaka (Marchand 64, Mauvaka 95), D Aldegheri (Merkler 54), T Flament, E Meafou (Arnold 54, Cros 91), J Willis, F Cros (Brennan 68, Meafou 80), A Roumat.
Red card: Arnold 89.

Referee: Matt Carley (RFU).

Leinster v Toulouse: As it happened

05:57 PM BST

Celebrations underway

Trophy currently being passed around the supporters by Ramos I think, which is a nice touch. Lots of Leinster and Toulouse supporters hanging around - although not the Leinster fans who are dashing back to Dublin.

Ntamack in the stands hugging his girlfriend and mother. His father, Emile, spoke pre-match about how excruciating it was watching his son play compared to playing in the final himself. A winner in 1996 and 2003, now his son has two Champions Cup winners’ medals too.

05:52 PM BST

Jerome Kaino, the Toulouse assistant coach

It was special, going overtime, the context of the match, and the fact that it’s Leinster. We have struggled the last few times against them in finals rugby to go the distance. To win in the end is special.

We knew they were going to go all the way. I thought our defence, I was really proud of that.

[Dupont] is incredible. It seems to happen all the time, Antoine getting the kudos for the match. I thought he played incredibly but there were other individuals in that team who played extremely well - Cros, Roumat, the guys who do the work in the shadows, that made the the difference for us.

What a stadium, what an atmosphere.

Leinster have one of the best attacking systems and sets of players in the world. The difference for us was staying together in defence, not people shooting out of the line. Keep the physical edge, but stay together. Leinster never gave up and went away.

05:47 PM BST

Now the Toulouse players

Dupont the last, the captain, the best in the world. Champions Cup title number six. It’s going to be a lively night down by the Garonne river.

05:44 PM BST

Up come the Leinster players

Dejected. To lose three finals in a row is incredibly tough, we’re getting into Buffalo Bills losing four straight Super Bowls territory. Maybe next year is the one.

05:39 PM BST

Dupont speaks

It’s awesome to be able to win with this team. The last two years were very tough for us after losing the semi-final. This year we really felt we were able to win this competition for a sixth star on the jersey. We’re really proud.

I have the luck to play and train every day with these guys. It’s an awesome club, awesome team. I just want to be part of it and to do my best every day.

The atmosphere was incredible, we really felt the support of the Toulousains who are here.

05:33 PM BST


A breakdown penalty for Leinster and chance for a consolation try. No lack of fight. Ramos goes for the intercept and can’t get there, but the ball spills into touch. It’s over.

Start the party, Toulouse fans. Dupont is player of the match and rightly so, but Willis and Roumat and Kinghorn were all in the frame, Doris and Porter too for Leinster.

What an astonishing final. Right in the top bucket. Leinster’s agonising wait for a fifth title continues for another year. Toulouse, the greatest side in this competition’s history, supreme again.

05:27 PM BST

ET 19 mins - Leinster 22-31 Toulouse

More big scrum pressure from Leinster but Toulouse just about get the ball away. Leinster’s lineout outside the 22. A minute to go.

Frawley misses a drop goal, trying to get within a score and then have the kickoff, but it misses left.

Toulouse are going to be champions for a sixth time. Astonishing.

05:25 PM BST

ET 18 mins - Leinster 22-31 Toulouse

Stoppage here involving Ugo Mola, the Toulouse head coach. I think Toulouse want uncontested scrums because of the injuries. Mauvaka back on for Marchand, and proper scrums by the way.

Three-and-a-half minutes to go.

Huge wheel on that scrum and another Leinster penalty. Wide to Lowe, Henshaw still battling. They have to score a try now. Dropped in the tackle by Van der Flier! What a back-breaker.

Two-and-a-half minutes to go.

05:22 PM BST

PENALTY RAMOS! Leinster 22-31 Toulouse

Three more from Ramos after the Willis turnover and crucially, Toulouse go more than a score ahead. Four-and-a-half minutes to go. Holy moly.

05:19 PM BST

ET 14 mins - Leinster 22-28 Toulouse

Dupont with another top clearance. Leinster win the lineout at the tail, but Healy is isolated and Willis, as you know, just feasts on those moments. Reading Abbey RFC’s finest coming up clutch.

05:17 PM BST

PENALTY RAMOS! Leinster 22-28 Toulouse

Looked as though that was either going to miss left or hit the post, but it snuck in. Toulouse ahead by six with seven minutes left.

05:17 PM BST

ET 11 mins - Leinster 22-25 Toulouse

High ball caught by Keenan but his foot was on the touchline, Toulouse lineout.

Oh that’s so soft by Doris, a wild penalty to give away. Tackled Chocobares but was off his feet going for a turnover. A chance for Ramos.

05:15 PM BST

We go again

What a delight this has been.

05:12 PM BST

That first half of extra-time took 18 minutes

We’ve still got another 10 minutes to come. I’m exhausted and not even playing.

05:07 PM BST

TRY VAN DER FLIER! Leinster 22-25 Toulouse

Porter back on for Healy, what a shift. Mallia has gone off, Graou on.

What a drive from Van der Flier, space wide to the left. Lowe brought down about five metres out. Now the forwards go to work.

Two metres short, Toulouse still grafting. Conan so close, Van der Flier snipes low... has he scored? Has to be close. On-field call is no try, no clear grounding! That might be big. Leinster will need a camera angle. They’ve found one, I think? No! They still can’t find one.

Carley seems sure that the ball is over the line. TMO now saying he was short initially, but did the ball stay on the ground or come back up? Nothing in this. It’s Scotland-France all over again.

Ball clearly on the ground and the TMO is happy that it’s in-goal, so a try! Woah. Leinster not dead yet folks. Frawley converts. Game on.

05:06 PM BST

ET 10+2 mins Leinster 15-25 Toulouse

Now this would be a stunning comeback, but Lowe’s nearly back on...

Leinster maul from the penalty and win another one. Points or corner? Corner! Punchy.

05:02 PM BST


TMO here with a key check, Arnold’s actions being looked at for a clearout. Looks like a tucked left arm which makes contact with Healy’s head... needs a reverse angle really but none coming up yet. Ah, there it is. I reckon this will be red.

Head contact, foul play, high level of danger. Mitigation could be changing his height at the last minute, says the referee, so actually could be yellow. The TMO is saying no mitigation, the referee is noting the change of height... but they settle on no mitigation and it’s a red card. The third in a Champions Cup final after Botia in 2021 and Alaalatoa last year.

05:00 PM BST

PENALTY RAMOS! Leinster 15-25 Toulouse

Twelve minutes left but the effort which the last few minutes has taken out of Leinster feels huge. Surely not more pain, three final defeats in a row is harrowing.

What a shift from Porter, who has just gone off.

04:58 PM BST

ET 6 mins - Leinster 15-22 Toulouse

After all that, another 50:22 stunner from Dupont with a kick to touch, getting a good bounce. He’s just not human.

Toulouse rumble with a maul and it’s a penalty, Leinster swaying here and Toulouse trying to finish them off.

04:56 PM BST

Lebel races clear

04:53 PM BST

TRY LEBEL! Leinster 15-22 Toulouse

It’s taken 83 minutes, but this final has a try and what a try!

Real concern for Frawley who is down before Toulouse shifted the ball wide and capitalised on the space left by Lowe being in the bin, Lebel too quick for a covering Van der Flier and scores.

Redemption for Ramos, who converts brilliantly from out wide.

Frawley, surprisingly, is still on the field.

04:52 PM BST

ET 3 mins - Leinster 15-15 Toulouse

Ramos... misses to the right! Not exactly been a stellar display since coming on. We remain tied.

04:51 PM BST


Officials agree it’s deliberate. Lowe can’t believe it but he’s in the bin, and Leinster are down to 14 for a big chunk of this extra-time. Ramos lining up a shot...

04:50 PM BST

ET 1 min - Leinster 15-15 Toulouse

Toulouse on the ball early, Meafou rumbling, Dupont directing traffic. Doris with another big tackle, he’s been immense.

Lowe nearly intercepts Dupont... deliberate knock-on or a genuine attempt? TMO will have a look.

04:49 PM BST

Right, anyone caught their breath?

Just the third time in the tournament’s history that we have gone to extra-time. Twenty more minutes of wild tension. Buckle up.

04:44 PM BST

FULL-TIME: Leinster 15-15 Toulouse ---- We go to extra-time!

Dupont with yet another turnover, what a crazy display. Toulouse running around like mad men before Ntamack says enough and boots it dead - we are going to extra-time.

04:42 PM BST

80 mins - Leinster 15-15 Toulouse

A drop goal to win it? That would be lovely. Frawley in the pocket... he has missed it left! Goodness me. He almost went for it too early, was under no pressure. Blimey.

04:41 PM BST

79 mins - Leinster 15-15 Toulouse

Roumat tries for the turnover but can’t get there. Box-kick from Gibson-Park and Ramos knocks on, Toulouse’s catching has faded in this half and Ramos has missed three.

Leinster are charging, surging, 30 metres or so out from Toulouse’s line.

04:40 PM BST

PENALTY FRAWLEY! Leinster 15-15 Toulouse

Right down the middle. We’re level with about two minutes to go. Hold on to your hats!

04:39 PM BST

77 mins - Leinster 12-15 Toulouse

Scrum is reset. Scrum penalty Leinster! Oh what on earth do you do here. Play it safe to get level or the corner for the win? Porter still on the field grafting away.

It’s the posts. We might be getting some extra-time...

04:36 PM BST

75 mins - Leinster 12-15 Toulouse

Leinster come again, fighting the clock now. Win or lose, this has been one of the great defensive efforts from Toulouse.

Not going far so Frawley goes high, and Ntamack drops it. Leinster have a scrum outside the Toulouse 22. This might be the moment.

04:33 PM BST

73 mins - Leinster 12-15 Toulouse

What do you have, Leinster? Frawley with a cracking run and they’re in the Toulouse 22. Toulouse keeping everyone out of the breakdown, waiting, it’s another breakdown penalty! Dupont! So, so good.

04:32 PM BST

That amazing defence by Larmour, but it had to go inside

04:31 PM BST

PENALTY RAMOS! Leinster 12-15 Toulouse

Leinster just about get the lineout but the Gibson-Park clearance is sensational. Incredible noise in the ground now.

Byrne now off.

Toulouse get a good maul going, hasn’t happened a lot, penalty coming too. Super shove. Ramos, not Kinghorn, lining up the penalty from the left, under 40 metres out. He lands it. Huge moment, nine minutes left.

04:27 PM BST

68 mins - Leinster 12-12 Toulouse

Ramos puts Kinghorn into space on the wing but there’s a vital tap tackle.

Acres of space for Lebel out on the left, chipped over by Ntamack he has a man inside but he goes himself and Larmour makes an unreal tackle! Is it a try? Slow-mo replay shows his right foot hits the ground before the finish.

It might be a trophy-winning tackle. Lebel should have passed.

04:26 PM BST

68 mins - Leinster 12-12 Toulouse

Been some high-quality kicking all game and that’s another gem from Gibson-Park, caught by Larmour. Another good bomb tapped back by Sheehan, Leinster with two kicks making 50 metres.

Leinster up to 10 phases, Toulouse waiting. Willis pouncing and turning it over! He’s so, so good in that area.

Toulouse into Leinster’s half, what can they produce.

04:23 PM BST

PENALTY BYRNE! Leinster 12-12 Toulouse

Level again. Absolutely going down to the wire this one, gripping stuff.

04:22 PM BST

64 mins - Leinster 9-12 Toulouse

Toulouse once again stop the Leinster maul so they go to the backs. Advantage played though for offside but Leinster want more, Larmour in a bit of space on the wing. Poached by Ramos so we’re back for the penalty.

Byrne still struggling, does he come off? Frawley’s waiting to come on but Byrne will stay out there and take a shot.

04:21 PM BST

62 mins - Leinster 9-12 Toulouse

New front row, same problems for Toulouse - Leinster are marmalising them in that area, winning another penalty.

Byrne down for a bit of treatment but good to continue.

04:17 PM BST

60 mins - Leinster 9-12 Toulouse

Conan on for Baird - Leinster’s depth just fantastic.

Toulouse off the top of the lineout, Roumat with a nice run. Mallia with a low skidder which Leinster just about handle, Lowe clearing.

Space for Kinghorn who is out on the wing... but the pass beforehand was forward. Think it’s now:

10 Ntamack
11 Lebel
12 Chocobares
13 Mallia
14 Kinghorn
15 Ramos

04:14 PM BST

PENALTY KINGHORN! Leinster 9-12 Toulouse

Wow, that was tight but it slides in past the right post. Toulouse lead again but there’s nothing in it.

Ramos is on for Costes, so potentially Ramos at 10 and Ntamack at 12 (?)

04:13 PM BST

57 mins - Leinster 9-9 Toulouse

One of those games where you feel exhausted just watching it.

Toulouse in possession around halfway, wide to Lebel who does well. The breakdowns and tackling are such a high standard that quick ball is almost a write-off.

Penalty coming, offside. Toulouse’s patience paid off, Ryan penalised. Kinghorn going for the posts.

Here’s waterboy Nienaber:

Jacques Nienaber of Leinster
Here's waterboy Nienaber

04:09 PM BST

53 mins - Leinster 9-9 Toulouse

Toulouse survive the scrum, Roumat picking up from the base, before Dupont clears with a box kick. No he doesn’t - McCarthy blitzed so Willis has a carry. Now they clear.

Leinster from halfway, a bomb from Byrne which Kinghorn can’t claim and he knocks on. Great feet from McCarthy to cut back in, Leinster surging. Porter can’t offload to Gibson-Park who might have been in under the posts. Intercepted by Toulouse! How do they keep stopping them!

04:05 PM BST

52 mins - Leinster 9-9 Toulouse

Maul initially stopped, then stopped proper and it’s not coming out - Toulouse scrum! Huge moment. Mauvaka and Willis right in there.

04:05 PM BST

51 mins - Leinster 9-9 Toulouse

Leinster settling into this now, another fine burst by Doris. Wide to Lowe but the space closes quickly. It looks like a Willis turnover... but it’s gone against him! Didn’t release after the steal. Leinster are going for the corner...

04:02 PM BST

49 mins - Leinster 9-9 Toulouse

Toulouse with a knock-on after the restart, so that’s a scrum for Leinster.

Nienaber now on the pitch giving out water (and instructions). Long stoppage as both tightheads needed treatment but now we scrum. Aldegheri pops up, Leinster penalty. They’ve had the edge there for most of the game bar that one Porter penalty.

03:59 PM BST

PENALTY BYRNE! Leinster 9-9 Toulouse

Toulouse are pinged at a very messy ruck and now Byrne can level things up. Which he does. Tasty.

03:57 PM BST

47 mins - Leinster 6-9 Toulouse

Leinster lose the lineout, that’s poor from that position. The throw was bad and Roumat stole it before Toulouse get away. Van der Flier now on.

Interesting subplot, Nienaber is coaching down on the sidelines and the officials apparently aren’t happy.

03:55 PM BST

45 mins - Leinster 6-9 Toulouse

Kinghorn with an unreal take but he was exposed and Baird leapt in for a turnover. Chance for Leinster to draw level... nope, they want the corner.

03:54 PM BST

43 mins - Leinster 6-9 Toulouse

Really good defensive read by Costes leads to a turnover, Toulouse kicking deep with Byrne rushing a clearance. Toulouse with an attacking lineout.

Ntamack sends up a bomb and Gibson-Park has somehow beaten Flament to the ball, how did that happen? Marks it and clears.

03:52 PM BST

41 mins - Leinster 6-9 Toulouse

Deep from Leinster, claimed by Toulouse and cleared to touch. One change by the looks of things, Ryan is on for Jenkins who was hurt in that Chocobares tackle at the end of the first half.

03:51 PM BST

Teams are back out

Finely poised, isn’t it? Let’s dive back in.

03:40 PM BST

Dupont’s absurd 50:22

03:37 PM BST

HALF-TIME: Leinster 6-9 Toulouse

Chipped over by Byrne and it’s a three-point game. What an absorbing first half that was, incredibly physical, edged so far by Kinghorn’s penalties. Both sides have had chances and come away with nothing.

Don’t go anywhere.

03:33 PM BST

40 mins - Leinster 3-9 Toulouse

Sheehan has just come up with an amazing turnover penalty when the half seemed to be quietly finishing. Means that Leinster can try and strike with the last play.

Lineout won and off the top, Doris running hard what a run. Osborne on his own but keeps the ball, Chocobares came up with a mad tackle on Jenkins before that, surely that gets checked. Jenkins still down.

Lowe thinks he’s scored in the corner but the whistle had gone, penalty for Leinster for offside.

03:32 PM BST

39 mins - Leinster 3-9 Toulouse

Penalty for Toulouse and Chocobares is down, the replacement for Ahki earlier. Looks serious, clutching his leg.

TMO checks and clears a late Henshaw tackle. Think that Chocobares is continuing as Kinghorn lines up another shot. That’s a miss though, didn’t curl around as he hoped and the gap stays at six.

03:29 PM BST

38 mins - Leinster 3-9 Toulouse

Sloppy from Byrne, restart going out on the full. Toulouse scrum with a few minutes left before the break.

03:28 PM BST

PENALTY KINGHORN! Leinster 3-9 Toulouse

Three from three, that one from 32 metres out on the left. A six-point lead for the side trying to win their sixth Champions Cup.

03:28 PM BST

35 mins - Leinster 3-6 Toulouse

Great bit of defensive work from Doris to force an errant Dupont pass, although now it’s ruled a Leinster knock-on. Before that Toulouse seemed to have a bit of space out on the left.

Toulouse scrum out on the left, great attacking position... Porter collapses, penalty. Do Toulouse gamble and get a score ahead? No, points.

03:24 PM BST

33 mins - Leinster 3-6 Toulouse

Because of the intensity, both sides a bit ragged in attack. Leinster’s blitz there doesn’t quite work as the ball gets wide to Mallia, but his grubber doesn’t make a lot of ground.

Toulouse not getting much joy so Dupont comes up with one of the more outrageous 50:22s you’ll see - low, fast, skips off the grass perfectly like a stone on the water.

03:21 PM BST

31 mins - Leinster 3-6 Toulouse

Dupont trying a little pass back inside, but it’s intercepted by Sheehan and the hooker’s away! Must go 60 metres before he’s reeled in, and Dupont works so hard to get back after Kinghorn’s tackle and make the turnover. Big call from the referee as Osborne tried to clear him off the ruck but the grit from Dupont there is why he’s the best in the game.

Toulouse win the lineout and then get a penalty.

03:19 PM BST

26 mins - Leinster 3-6 Toulouse

Lengthy kick exchange ends with Kinghorn finding touch. Toulouse poach the lineout, Flament I think, before some quick hands open the space up out wide. Costes has Mallia outside him but dummies and cuts in, maybe he thought there wasn’t enough room? Anyway, the ball is lost and Lowe can cle... charged down! Leinster somehow get it back and clear. Just took too much time there and Dupont got to the ball.

03:15 PM BST

24 mins - Leinster 3-6 Toulouse

Superb attack by Leinster sparked by Henshaw’s break after the scrum, but Toulouse rally brilliantly and Ntamack wins the turnover penalty. Superb defence.

After the lineout McCarthy does brilliantly to disrupt the Toulouse maul and earn Leinster a scrum.

03:14 PM BST

Those big tackles

03:12 PM BST

21 mins - Leinster 3-6 Toulouse

One tactic to note so far is Byrne putting up attacking bombs to the wings, this time looking for Baird against Lebel which is obviously a height mismatch. It nearly works, but Toulouse get the ball back and clear.

Kinghorn chasing his own chip has just absolutely clattered Byrne. And then that’s another massive hit on Doris by Cros! Crikey. Can’t wait to see those again.

Ntamack with a great take in the air as Toulouse creep into the Leinster half, before Dupont knocks on.

Ahki, who’s been getting treatment the whole game, has to come off and Chocobares comes on.

03:08 PM BST

PENALTY BYRNE! Leinster 3-6 Toulouse

Leinster on the board. Not the try they wanted after that long spell of pressure, but it’s something.

Mallia with an incredible take off the restart to put Toulouse into the attack... but then they’re pinged for crossing.

03:07 PM BST

18 mins - Leinster 0-6 Toulouse

Ntamack getting harried and pressured near his own 22 before coughing up the ball. Dupont tries to hack clear but back come Leinster. Looked like it might be a great turnover from Aldegheri but he failed to lift the ball, I think, before going off his feet. Penalty number four for Leinster in this area and this time they’re going for the sticks.

03:04 PM BST

16 mins - Leinster 0-6 Toulouse

Good pressure from Roumat means Leinster just about get the ball back. McCarthy is over, but we’re coming back for a knock-on after a great rip in the tackle by Ntamack.

First scrum and Leinster get a good nudge before Dupont clears long.

03:03 PM BST

15 mins - Leinster 0-6 Toulouse

Toulouse bring down the Leinster maul so they look wide, Keenan just stopped by Ahki. Mega tackle knocks the ball out of Byrne’s hands so we’re back for the penalty. Leinster have turned down two shots so far, will they maul again? We’re back to the corner.

03:01 PM BST

14 mins - Leinster 0-6 Toulouse

That’s a very clever kick from Byrne over to Sheehan on the wing. The hooker just about stays infield and then flicks an offload, which is knocked to ground by Roumat but not forwards, seemingly. So it’s an attacking lineout for Leinster.

Ahki struggling, getting more treatment.

02:59 PM BST

12 mins - Leinster 0-6 Toulouse

Leinster chuck almost everyone into the maul but it doesn’t get over. Pass by Henshaw in midfield goes to ground - Leinster a bit sloppy with their handling - and Toulouse pounce for a penalty at the ruck.

They take it quickly, but Mallia’s pass finds no one and flies into touch. Bit lively, isn’t it?

02:57 PM BST

9 mins - Leinster 0-6 Toulouse

Stroke of luck for Leinster as the restart drops and bounces their way, but the ball’s then lost forward and Toulouse can clear. Ahki misjudged the restart completely and it fell for Jenkins.

Leinster go off the top of the lineout. Dropped by McCarthy, Toulouse threatening a turnover but no joy. Leinster with the advantage, Lowe slices through! Great break but the offload goes to no one. Leinster still with the ball and the advantage, and back we come for the penalty.

Leinster go to the corner...

02:55 PM BST

PENALTY KINGHORN! Leinster 0-6 Toulouse

That’s two from two. Toulouse putting a lot of heft into those rucks, which is interesting.

02:54 PM BST

7 mins - Leinster 0-3 Toulouse

Osborne pounced on by Meafou and that’s a turnover penalty, what a player. Kinghorn can have another shot, this one on the right from 40 metres out.

02:52 PM BST

PENALTY KINGHORN! Leinster 0-3 Toulouse

Curled in from right to left, great strike, Toulouse lead.

02:52 PM BST

5 mins - Leinster 0-0 Toulouse

Leinster stray offside and Kinghorn is lining up a long penalty from around halfway. Caolan Englefield banged over a penalty from miles out last night for Gloucester.

02:51 PM BST

4 mins - Leinster 0-0 Toulouse

Clever kick through by Ntamack now to turn Leinster back towards their 22. Few phases, including a big McCarthy run, before Gibson-Park finds touch.

02:48 PM BST

2 mins - Leinster 0-0 Toulouse

Three box kicks so far by Gibson-Park, all kept in field, as Kinghorn misses out on a high catch but Toulouse get it back. Sweeping attack down the right, brilliant Meafou offload and then kicked through...

Dupont nearly produces the incredible again, somehow getting an offload away to Mallia, but a TMO check shows his foot grazed the touchline.

It’s a long check, but no try, Gibson-Park with the brilliant tackle on Dupont to force him out. Leinster win the lineout and clear.

02:46 PM BST


Matthew Carley on the whistle, Ntamack kicks deep and we’re away. Caught and then cleared by Gibson-Park.

02:45 PM BST

Out come the teams

Some impressive fireworks, the Champions Cup anthem blaring... Meafou cracking a smile in the huddle. This will be fun.

02:42 PM BST

Dan Schofield at the ground

Stadium is slowly filling up and it looks like Leinster will have the bulk of the support judging by the banks of blue. There are quite a few pockets of red and that is not just Toulouse supporters. On the Victoria line up to Seven Sisters, I came across a carriage full of Munster fans who will be lending their allegiance to their French Top 14 champions. When I asked why they would not be backing their compatriots, there was a lot of angry muttering about the IRFU, RG Snyman and Brian O’Driscoll.

02:37 PM BST

Right, 10-minute warning

Get your teas and coffees ready (or something stronger).

Should probably think about a prediction... surely Leinster aren’t going to lose three finals on the bounce. And yet... leaning Toulouse by three.

02:30 PM BST

Looks warm at Tottenham

Having been there last night for the Challenge Cup final (a busman’s holiday), can confirm it is some stadium. The noise with a sell-out should be quite something.

02:15 PM BST

Dupont or Gibson-Park?

Two fascinating players, obviously. Gibson-Park now so important for Leinster and Ireland, Dupont the magician. Gavin Mairs takes a look at how Gibson-Park has evolved into such a key player.

Do not be misled by Gibson-Park’s lack of celebrity. The 32-year-old is already the overwhelming favourite to be installed as the British and Irish Lions scrum-half for the tour of Australia next year. And while Dupont’s all-court game, which mixes pace and power, is irresistible, Gibson-Park’s influence on both Leinster and Ireland has been described as “irreplaceable”.

02:04 PM BST

Nienaber’s influence

Excellent read here from Charlie Morgan on how the former Springbok head coach’s impact has changed Leinster.

Finding space on the outside is one thing. Scoring a try is altogether tougher. Outside of fantastic patches early in each half, Leinster were not especially dazzling in attack against Saints. They needed to scramble in the dying stages, with Caelan Doris pouncing for a vital jackal. Nienaber’s charges pulled through a tight knockout game. Where have you seen that before?

01:55 PM BST

Goalkicking news

Because it matters more in finals than any other time. Toulouse have made the interesting call to go with Blair Kinghorn over Thomas Ramos at full-back, with Kinghorn also taking charge of the goalkicking. A huge day for the Scotland international, who joined Toulouse back in November after they paid Edinburgh a six-figure release fee.

01:49 PM BST

After recent agony, is this Leinster’s time?

Consecutive losses in the final to La Rochelle have left a bit of scar, as Gavin Mairs writes here.

With each narrow failure has come more pascals of pressure and feeling that the burden of equalling Toulouse’s record of five titles has made it less, rather than more likely.

01:44 PM BST

A reminder of how last night went

Here is Charlie Morgan’s match report from last night’s Challenge Cup final, with the Sharks just too powerful at the scrum and too clinical for Gloucester.

01:23 PM BST

Leinster looking to be crowned kings of Europe again

Afternoon everyone, what a treat this should be. Amazing, really, that after all of their many respective triumphs in this competition, Leinster and Toulouse have never faced each other in a Champions Cup final. That ends today at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, where unbelievably there will be a trophy presentation (sorry, Spurs fans) with Leinster bidding to win title number five, and Toulouse going for a historic sixth to move them further ahead of the chasing pack. This genuinely does feel like an absolute blockbuster featuring some of the very best players in the northern hemisphere.

From a Leinster perspective, we’re so used to them being a dominant force that given their high standards, this run without a European title going back to 2018 feels unusual. Johnny Sexton’s retirement has not been the hammer blow many expected, the sign of a high-quality system and structure which has only been improved by Jacques Nienaber’s arrival, adding more bite to a side already packed with quality and now utilising the defensive system which has previously served South Africa so well. Joe McCarthy’s breakout season has been a treat but everything good about Leinster at present seems to stem from the form of Jamison Gibson-Park.

As for Toulouse, it’s hard to think of a more lethal attack on this side of the equator. As Exeter and Harlequins will testify, you can only really contain Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack with all of their many weapons for so long. You know about all of Dupont’s wizardry by now but really it’s the return of Ntamack from injury, having so cruelly missed the Rugby World Cup, which feels so important. They just shred teams to pieces.

So, lots to look forward to then ahead of what should be one of the great finals. Stick with us for all the build-up.

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