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La Rochelle and Toulouse set for blockbuster Heineken Champions Cup final clash

Thursday 20th May 2021

3:00 pm (GMT)

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La Rochelle and Toulouse set for blockbuster Heineken Champions Cup final clash

Don't miss the Heineken Champions Cup final on Saturday between La Rochelle and Toulouse

It’s a clash of two stellar French outfits in this season’s showpiece Heineken Champions Cup final at Twickenham Stadium as La Rochelle and Toulouse will do battle on Saturday afternoon for the biggest prize in European Rugby.

In terms of European experience and pedigree, La Rochelle and Toulouse couldn’t be further apart although it will count for little at 16:45 (UK and Irish time) on Saturday when 10,000 fans will be in attendance to see what is sure to be a European classic.

Perennial European heavyweights Toulouse will be going in search of a record-breaking fifth European Cup on Saturday, having already lifted Europe’s top club prize in 1996, 2003, 2005 and 2010.

Meanwhile, La Rochelle will be competing in the Heineken Champions Cup final for the first time, having only previously reached the quarter-final stage of the competition.

They can look back on a 2019 Challenge Cup final defeat to ASM Clermont Auvergne, and have plenty of European pedigree amongst the coaching staff, including Munster Rugby legend Ronan O’Gara and former Leinster Rugby coach Jono Gibbes.

EPCR European Player of the Year nominee Antoine Dupont has been at his brilliant best in this campaign for Toulouse, and is tied for top try-scorer in the competition with four –and has also beaten 20 defenders in his four matches.

La Rochelle’s Gregory Alldritt leads the competition in carries with 59, but arguably their finest player this season has been former Saracens lock Will Skelton.

The 2019 Heineken Champions Cup winner has taken his form to a new level this season, especially when producing one of the best all-round displays of the season against Leinster in the last four.

  • Watch the Heineken Champions Cup final between La Rochelle and Toulouse on Saturday 22 May, live on BT Sport, Channel 4 and Virgin Media from 16:45 (UK and Irish time).

Pool positions 

La Rochelle4th in Heineken Champions Cup Pool A; 9 points 

Toulouse: 3rd in Heineken Champions Cup Pool B; 10 points

Quarter-finals

La Rochelle 45-21 Sale Sharks

ASM Clermont Auvergne 12-21 Toulouse

Semi-finals

La Rochelle 32-32 Leinster Rugby

Toulouse 21-9 Bordeaux-Begles

Heineken Champions Cup head-to-head record 

The sides have never met in the Heineken Champions Cup

Leading 2020/21 points-scorers 

La Rochelle: Ihaia West (48)

Toulouse: Romain Ntamack (52)

Key quotes 

Will Skelton (La Rochelle): “We’ve got guys like [Dillyn] Leyds, guys like Victor [Vito], Greg Alldritt, who don’t change the way they play, they play to their strengths. Ronan and Jono facilitate that at training and its showing on the field.  

“Ronan’s a legend of the game. I didn’t know how it’d go as a coach though, because it doesn’t always transfer – being a great player to a great coach. But for me, he’s been awesome. He’s been someone who has helped on the side of playing to your strengths.” 

Cheslin Kolbe (Toulouse): just need to make sure that I prepare well throughout the week, before we leave for England and then I can calm down the nerves through the preparation we put in. I think it’s probably [partly due to] the long wait, Toulouse not getting the fifth title for ten years. 

Obviously there’s a bit of pressure on us as players to try and create history by getting that fifth star onto the jersey. But I’d definitely say that’s going to be our main focus. I think we just need to focus on the processes in the game. 

Match facts

  • This will be the first time these clubs have met in European competition, however Toulouse have
    won six of their last seven clashes against La Rochelle in the TOP 14 (L1).
  • La Rochelle will be participating in their first Heineken Champions Cup final, they have reached
    this stage in the Challenge Cup though, suffering a 16-36 defeat to fellow TOP 14 side ASM
    Clermont Auvergne in 2018/19.
  • Toulouse have won the Heineken Champions Cup on four occasions and will be aiming to lift the
    trophy for a record fifth time; three of their previous four final victories came against fellow TOP
    14 opposition – Perpignan in 2002/03, Stade Français in 2004/05 and Biarritz in 2009/10.
  • In total, Toulouse have reached the Heineken Champions Cup final for the seventh time, each of
    their previous six matches at this stage have been decided by seven points or fewer, including a
    20-27 defeat to Wasps in their only previous final at Twickenham.
  • La Rochelle have won their last four completed matches in the Heineken Champions Cup, their
    best run in the competition, while Toulouse have also won their last four matches and have
    suffered just one defeat in the 12 matches they’ve played since the beginning of last season (W11).
  • Toulouse are one of just five sides to maintain a 100% scrum success rate in the Heineken
    Champions Cup this season, winning each of their 21 scrums, while they’ve also managed to win
    29% of scrums on the opposition feed, the best rate of any club.
  • Only Lyon (14.5) have averaged more offloads per game in the Champions Cup this season than
    La Rochelle (11.3) and Toulouse (10.3); La Rochelle have also allowed their opponents to offload
    less often than against any other side (4.5 per game).

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Toulouse claim fifth star after Heineken Champions Cup final success over La Rochelle

Saturday 22nd May 2021

7:21 pm (GMT)

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Toulouse claim fifth star after Heineken Champions Cup final success over La Rochelle

Antoine Dupont and Jerome Kaino of Toulouse lifts the Heineken Champions Cup

Toulouse became the first side to win five European titles on Saturday afternoon after a stunning 22-17 win over La Rochelle in a dramatic Heineken Champions Cup final at Twickenham Stadium.

It was a try from Heineken Champions Cup debutant Juan Cruz Mallia that helped Toulouse to victory, as well as 17 points from the boot of fly-half Romain Ntamack, who was perfect on the afternoon and becomes the first father-and-son combination to win the tournament, alongside his father Emile.

La Rochelle will possibly regret a string of missed chances as well as a red card to centre Levani Botia, although Tawera Kerr-Barlow did cross the whitewash with five minutes to play to set up a grandstand finish.

The first half proved to be a something of a kicking battle, with Romain Ntamack first slotting over a penalty back before his opposite number Ihaia West responded with a three-pointer of his own.

Ntamack and West then traded further penalty kicks, before the match turned on 27 minutes.

It was La Rochelle centre Levani Botia who was shown a red card by referee Luke Pearce following a high tackle on Maxime Medard, reducing the maiden finalists to 14 men for the remaining 53 minutes.

They were back level for 10 minutes though, as Rynhardt Elstadt was then sent to the sin bin for Toulouse, with West and Ntamack again trading blows before La Rochelle’s No.10 slotted over one just before the break to move them three ahead.

However, his kicking became more erratic in the second period – missing a total of three kicks – including one at the start of the second half from close range before Ntamack levelled the scores.

Cheslin Kolbe went close to the opening try on 54 minutes but they would eventually cross the whitewash on the hour-mark.

It came courtesy of Mallia, on his first Heineken Champions Cup start, after a lovely cut-out pass to start the move from Ntamack, before play was nudged back inside to Argentinian who darted back to the outside and dived over.

Ntamack converted and then slotted another three-pointer to stretch the lead to 10 points, but La Rochelle would not give in.

It was scrum-half Tawera Kerr-Barlow who rounded off a powerful set of phases from the monstrous La Rochelle pack to give them hope, although West would hit the post with the conversion to make it a five-point game.

But Toulouse saw off the final minutes to claim a record-breaking fifth European title, with Antoine Dupont kicking into touch to round off an epic Twickenham final.

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