We continue our preview of Heineken Champions Cup Pool A with a profile of four-time winners Leinster Rugby.
Heineken Champions Cup record
Leinster’s four triumphs in the competition came in 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2018, beating Leicester Tigers (19-16), Northampton Saints (33-22), Ulster Rugby (42-14) and Racing 92 (15-12) in the respective finals.
They have twice been defeated in the showpiece game, losing 20-10 to Saracens in 2019 and 24-21 to Stade Rochelais last season.
Leinster marched to the final in Marseille after finishing fourth in Pool A and beating Connacht Rugby (82-41 on aggregate), Leicester (23-14) and Stade Toulousain (40-17) in the knockout stage.
They were on course for a fifth title until a last-gasp Arthur Retière try snatched victory for La Rochelle at Stade Vélodrome.
Leo Cullen has been at the helm at Leinster since 2015, having spent a year as the Irish province’s forwards coach prior to that.
He guided Leinster to their fourth triumph in EPCR’s elite competition in 2018 and was part of the playing squad for their previous three successes in the competition.
The former lock earned 32 Ireland caps during his 16-year career, featuring 95 times in EPCR competitions, the vast majority of those coming with Leinster, although he had a stint with Leicester between 2005 and 2007 before returning to his boyhood side.
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Leinster’s squad is awash with Ireland internationals, headed by the reigning EPCR European Player of the Year, flanker Josh van der Flier.
Props Tadhg Furlong and Andrew Porter, lock James Ryan and back-row forward Caelan Doris are further talents in the pack.
In the backs, Jamison Gibson-Park and the vastly experienced Johnny Sexton form a dynamic half-back partnership, while Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose are reliable centres, wing James Lowe was a prolific try-scorer in the Heineken Champions Cup last season and New Zealander Charlie Ngatai is a fresh option in midfield, having joined from Lyon this summer.
Leinster begin their Pool A campaign with a trip to Le Havre to play Racing 92 on December 10, with Gloucester Rugby visiting the RDS Arena in Round 2.
The Irish province travel to Gloucester on January 14 before hosting Racing at the Aviva Stadium on January 21 in the final round of pool fixtures.