Stade Rochelais were greeted by thousands of fans as they returned home after securing the Heineken Champions Cup in Dublin on Saturday.

There were brilliant scenes at La Rochelle’s Old Port once again, with supporters turning out on mass for a second year running to celebrate their team’s second successive Heineken Champions Cup title.

La Rochelle emerged triumphant against Leinster Rugby after an exhilarating final at a sold-out Aviva Stadium, Ronan O’Gara’s side recovering from 17 points down to clinch a dramatic 27-26 win.

The club’s players held the Heineken Champions Cup aloft as their open-top bus drove through a sea over 40,000 ecstatic fans gathered in the city on the west coast of France on Sunday afternoon.

Hundreds of supporters even congregated at the airport in La Rochelle in the early hours of Sunday morning in anticipation of their side’s return.

“You see, it’s 3am and our supporters are here!” Stade Rochelais president Vincent Merling said. “It’s a lot of emotion. We need our supporters so much, they are exceptional.

“It’s unbelievable, the players won for them. This is an exceptional feat, with the support of their audience even from a distance. We will realise it a little later, but it’s great.”

La Rochelle’s stunning victory and RC Toulon’s impressive EPCR Challenge Cup success against Glasgow Warriors on Friday concluded an epic season of EPCR competitions.

Over one million fans across Europe and South Africa attended Heineken Champions Cup games and a further 400,000 turned out for EPCR Challenge Cup matches.

When the La Rochelle celebrations finally come to an end, the focus will shift to the 2023/24 campaign, with finals at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium the new dream for some of the best teams in club rugby.