"Two Most Decorated European Clubs" - Investec Champions Cup Final Preview - Leinster Rugby vs Stade Toulousain - Ruck

“Two Most Decorated European Clubs” – Investec Champions Cup Final Preview – Leinster Rugby vs Stade Toulousain

The pinnacle club rugby fixture is coming in over the horizon, as Leinster Rugby and Stade Toulousain battle it out in the Investec Champions Cup Final this Saturday. The state of the art Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is the venue, and the stage is set for an unforgettable afternoon of action between these two titans of the URC and the French Top 14.

The two most decorated clubs in EPCR history, Leinster Rugby and Stade Toulousain will both be appearing in their eighth tournament final. Stade Toulousain lead the way with five Champions Cup titles whilst Leinster have four and are looking to equalise their French counterparts this weekend. The Dubliners will be playing in their third consecutive Champions Cup Final and will once again be taking on opponents from the land of ‘Les Bleus’.

The past two Champions Cup Finals have ended in dejection for the Dublin club, as La Rochelle recorded back-to-back title triumphs at Leinster’s expense. Headed up by Munster legend Ronan O’Gara, La Rochelle recorded three wins over Leinster in consecutive Champions Cup campaigns. The hex began with the 2021 semi-final elimination to the French side, before a duo of finale defeats culminated with the most recent loss at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium.

Johnny Sexton’s post-match outburst at the match officials, is amongst the most memorable moments of last season’s Champions Cup Final. However, Leinster have since been able to exact revenge upon Stade Rochelais, as the Irish province dumped O’Gara’s men out of this season’s Champions Cup Quarter-Finals, with a thunderous 40-13 score-line. Leinster will be playing in a third consecutive Champions Cup final, equalling the feats of Toulouse(2003, 2004 and 2005) Toulon (2013, 2014, 2015) and their archaic enemies La Rochelle (2021, 2022, 2023).

Saturday’s final will be the seventh meeting between an Irish province and a French club, with the Irish currently leading the way with four victories to two. The first meeting of it’s kind took place in the 1998/99 Heineken Cup Final in only the fourth iteration of the tournament. Ulster Rugby defeated Colomiers that day, which ignited a European rugby rivalry between the Irish and French sides.


Irish prop Cian Healy could become the first player ever to win five Champions Cup titles. Should the 36-year-old be selected in a victorious match day 23, Healy will go down in the history books as the tournaments most decorated player.

Toulouse captain Antoine Dupont’s impressive all-round ability is reflected is this season’s tournament statistics. The scrum-half sits at the top of the table for carries (110) and offloads (20), and is second for both metres made (534) and line breaks (13), and is in joint-third place for turnovers (9).

Antoine Dupont of Toulouse is tackled by Reda Wardi of La Rochelle during the European Champions Cup Final match between La Rochelle and Toulouse at Twickenham Stadium, London on May 22 2021. – PHOTO: Micah Crook/PPAUK

Leinster wing James Lowe’s scoring exploits has moved him up into the top 10, on the tournament’s all-time scorers list. the Ireland international became the first player to score a semi-final hat-trick with his treble against Northampton Saints at Croke Park, and is now in joint eighth place with 27 tries from just 35 appearances.

Leinster hooker Dan Sheehan scored two tries in last season’s final, and is one of only five players to have achieved the feat in the tournament’s deciding match. The others are: Sebastien Carrat (CA Brive v Bath Rugby 1998), Leon Lloyd (Leicester Tigers v Stade Français Paris 2001), Johnny Sexton (Leinster Rugby v Northampton Saints 2011) and Simon Zebo (Racing 92 v Exeter Chiefs 2020).

Leo Cullen and Ugo Mola have each won the tournament as a player, and also a head coach. Cullen captained Leinster to Champions Cup victories in 2009, 2011 and 2012 before winning the tournament as a coach in 2018. Mola came off the bench for Stade Toulousain in the inaugural 1996 final, and then led the French giants to the star-shaped trophy in 2021.

Investec Player of the Year nominee Jamison Gibson-Park, is one of 12 players who have won the northern-southern hemisphere double of Champions Cup (Leinster 2018) and Super Rugby (Hurricanes 2016) titles.

Finally, Emile Ntamack, who captained Stade Toulousain in the 1996 final, and France fly half Romain Ntamack, a winner in 2021, are the only father and son combination to have won the Champions Cup tournament.