Champions Cup final: Leinster v Racing 92

Leinster are just one win away from joining Toulouse as four-time winners of the European Cup

Patrick Madden Sat, May 12
LIVE: Champions Cup final: Leinster v Racing 92

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  • Good afternoon!

    Welcome to our coverage of the Champions Cup final between Leinster and Racing 92 at the San Mamés Stadium, Bilbao (kick-off 4.45pm).

    Today Leo Cullen's men are bidding to become kings of Europe for a fourth time, and confirm their status as the continent's finest club side.

    The province have been supreme on their march to the Basque Country - with the reigning champions of England, the Pro 14 and Europe all beaten en-route to the final.

    Leinster's potent mix of experience and firebrand youth is yet to have been truly matched in Europe this season - but stern opposition stand in their way today.

    Racing 92 were runners-up in this competition two years ago and will fancy their chances of going one better this afternoon. Expensively assembled, the Parisian outfit present a devastating blend of flare and thumping power.

    With Cullen's side priced at 1-6 the bookmakers seem to think this is a forgone conclusion. With the likes of Isa Nacewa and Johnny Sexton in the saddle, Leinster won't fall into the trap of thinking the same.

    A booming end to Europe's premier club competition awaits in Bilbao - and we'll be bringing you all of the action.

    Come on!!!


    Dan Carter has been ruled out of the final with a hamstring injury -  Rémi Talès takes his place on the bench. No golden farewell for the All Blacks legend before he heads for Japan at the end of the season.

  • Leinster: Rob Kearney; Jordan Larmour, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, Isa Nacewa (capt); Johnny Sexton, Luke McGrath; Cian Healy, Sean Cronin, Tadhg Furlong, Devin Toner, James Ryan, Scott Fardy, Dan Leavy, Jordi Murphy. Replacements: James Tracy, Jack McGrath, Andrew Porter, Rhys Ruddock, Jack Conan, Jamison Gibson-Park, Joey Carbery, Rory O’Loughlin.

    Racing 92: Louis Dupichot; Teddy Thomas, Virimi Vakatawa, Henry Chavancy, Marc Andreu; Pat Lambie, Teddy Iribaren; Eddy Ben Arous, Camille Chat, Cedate Gomes Sa, Donnacha Ryan, Leone Nakarawa, Wenceslas Lauret, Bernard Le Roux, Yannick Nyanga (capt). Replacements: Ole Avei, Vasil Kakovin, Census Johnston, Boris Palu, Baptiste Chouzenoux, Antoine Gibert, Rémi Talès, Joe Rokocoko.

  • Gerry Thornley is in Bilbao today, you can read his match preview HERE.

    Donnacha Ryan is a familiar face in the Racing 92 line-up, you can read Gavin Cummiskey's interview with the former Munster lock HERE.

    And Leinster legend Isa Nacewa bids farewell after today's final. You can read Gerry Thornley on the province's greatest foreign import HERE.

  • Leinster's route to the final:

    Leinster 24 Montpellier 17
    Glasgow 18 Leinster 34
    Exeter 8 Leinster 18
    Leinster 22 Exeter 17
    Leinster 55 Glasgow 19
    Montpellier 14 Leinster 23
    Leinster 30 Saracens 19
    Leinster 38 Scarlets 16

    Not bad. . .

  • The outgoing Isa Nacewa can become a European champion for a staggering fourth time this afternoon - along with Johnny Sexton, Devin Toner and Cian Healy.  

    Many of their team mates today were in the stands or watching on the telly when Leinster won the competition in 2009, 2011 and 2012.

    James Ryan, Dan Leavy, Tadhg Furlong, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw and Jordan Larmour are all pups in comparison to the great Kiwi - but they have been just as crucial to Leinster's progression to the final.

    They are all Grand Slam winners - and you get the feeling if they get their hands on a first European medal today, it certainly won't be their last.

  • 18 of Leinster's matchday 23 today are homegrown - hallmarks of the Athletic Bilbao side who call the San Mames home.
  • And what to expect from Racing? The Parisians have the best defence in the Top 14 and a monstrous pack, while the electric Teddy Thomas will pose a serious threat down the outside. Racing will try to slow the tempo of the game down and pick their moment. The issue will be whether they can last the full 80.
  • The tireless Donnacha Ryan is the perfect foil for Leone Nakawara in the Racing 92 engine room - the 6 foot 6 Fijian tops the tournament charts for offloads and has beaten 22 defenders. Not bad for a lock.
  • 10 mins until kick-off!
  • A final embrace in the changing rooms for Leinster and Racing. Greatness beckons for one of them.
  • The rain is lashing down in the Basque Country.  
  • The teams are in the tunnel. Racing 92 run out wearing berets.
  • No headwear for Leinster. Just steely eyes and chests pumped.
  • Wayne Barnes has the whistle. Sexton to get us underway. Here we go.


  • 1 min: Racing secure the ball. New scrumhalf Iribaren takes his time over the clearing boxkick and it's worth the wait - stunning clearance up to the Leinster 10.
  • 2 min: Cronin hits Toner at the lineout and McGrath clears. Early rumble for the Racing pack on their 22before they kick deep to Kearney - he finds a smart touch on halfway on the right.
  • 3 min: Slick lineout ball for Racing and outhalf Lambie makes a good break in midfield, arcing his run on the outside shoulder. Penalty Racing after Ringrose goes high on Vakatawa.

    Lambie paid the price for that break - he's injured his right knee as he stepped and he's limping off. No Carter on the banch so Tales replaces the Springbok.

    Number nine Iribaren takes over kicking duties and gets the Parisians on the board.


  • 5 min: Leinster work the short side and Larmour get the ball for the first time, kicking deep into the Racing 22. It's returned well though and Leinster have a lineout on their 10.
  • 6 min: Good ball for Leinster and they move it left - Racing very competitive at the breakdown. Slow ball for Leinster so McGrath kicks from the base.

    Another fantastic kick from Iribaren turns Leinster - he's settled into this really well.

  • 8 min: Knock on from Ben Arous on the Leinster 10 after he fails to read a pass from Iribaren.

    First scrum and a chance to set the tone. Solid from Leinster if not spectacular. McGrath finds Nacewa on the shortside and he hacks down the left - Thomas slides in to cover and secure the ball.

  • 10 MIN: LEINSTER 0 RACING 92 3
  • 11 min: Leinster lineout on the Racing 10. Cronin goes long and Ryan makes a nuisance of himself, getting to the ball ahead of Toner and then crashing to the ground. He's hurt his shoulder but replays show there was no foul play in the air. Racing have a penalty which is sent to the Leinster 10.  

    Leinster haven't got a real foothold yet.

  • 13 min: Chavancy tries to puncture the Leinster line but he runs into Sexton who holds him up brilliantly on the 22. Le Roux charges in with a high arm and Leinster are awarded a penalty.
  • 15 min: Leinster smell blood for the first time as Nacewa breaks down the left and is held up just short. Blue shirts flood in to support - Leavy can't quite force his way over. Thomas intercepts as Leinster look to capitalise on an overlap but he is called back by Barnes for an interception earlier in the play. Lucky escape.

    Penalty to Leinster inside the Racing 22 to the left of the posts - Johnny makes no mistake.

    17 MIN: LEINSTER 3 RACING 92 3

  • 20 MIN: LEINSTER 3 RACING 92 3
  • 21 min: Leinster concede a penalty on the Racing 92 10-metre for getting their numbers wrong at the lineout - Iribaren takes it quickly and sends another brilliant kick up to the Leinster five-metre. He's certainly plugged the gap left by the injured Machenaud so far.
  • 22 min: Nakarawa wins a Racing lineout and they set up a good maul, drawing a penalty from Leinster.

    Iribaren goes for goal from the 22 to the right of the posts, and his FINE start to the afternoon continues.

    23 MIN: LEINSTER 3 RACING 92 6

  • 24min: Leinster building the phases on the Racing 10, predictably big carries met with ferocious linespeed. Sexton decides enough is enough and goes high - Dupichot spills the kick inside his 22 but Nakarawa covers well, before Iribaren releases the pressure again with a fine clearance down the left.
  • 27 min: Leinster deciding they need to get more familiar with the ball. Neat feet from Larmour to dance out of trouble and then power up to the 22. Sexotn tries to force it left to Toner who is chopped by Vakatawa, but Leinster are then penalised after Fardy grabs Chat round the neck.
  • 28 min: First poor play from Iribaren as a loose pass puts Andreu on the back foot. Kearney competes for a box kick on the Racing 10-metre and it goes loose but bounces for a blue and white shirt.

    Racing kick to the isolated McGrath who does very well to dance out of trouble.

  • 30 MIN: LEINSTER 3 RACING 92 6
  • 30 min: An excellent high take from Kearney on halfway gives Leinster some sorely-needed momentum. They move it left where Henshaw and Dupichot are involved in a bone-shuddering collision in midfield. It was face on face - both seem to be alright, poor technique from the Racing 15.

    All Blacks veteran Joe Rokocoko is on as a blood/HIA replacement.

  • 32 min: Leinster probing on the Racing 22, Ryan making a huge carry as Vakatawa slips off the tackle. Penalty Leinster for offside - Nacewa is screaming for the ball on the left but a deflection in midfield saves Racing's bacon.

    Leinster turn down the three points and the opportunity to go for the corner - Leavy tapping quickly - but huge work from Chat over the ball earns Racing a penalty. Big chance wasted.

  • 33 min: A poor clearance from Kearney hangs high in the air and it's gathered by Chavancy, who misses the chance to slip in Nyanga. Kearney then fails to gather a kick on his 22 under pressure - but there was a Racing knock on. Leinster earn a free kick from the scrum which Sexton clears high - Kearney knocks forward as he tries to claim in the air.
  • 36 min: Nyanga picks the ball from the scrum and moves it right, Thomas dancing into the line but into trouble. Nakarawa tries one of his trademark offloads to Lauret but it goes loose.
  • 38 min: Henshaw slips into a Tales tackle and wins a penalty for a high arm, Sexton finds a good touch - still plenty of time for a score.
  • 38 min: Quick Leinster ball and Leavy makes a big carry through the middle. McGrath then tries to find Fardy on the 22 but Nakarawa knocks the ball down with one of his big, telescopic arms. It was clearly deliberate - and the Fijian thinks he's heading for the bin - but gets away with just a penalty.

    Sexton knocks over a simple chance.

    39 MIN: LEINSTER 6 RACING 92 6

  • It's not a classic, but Leinster are all square at the break despite never really getting going, and never being threatened themselves. Racing have been dogged in defence but it remains to be seen how long they can keep it up.
  • The teams are back out for the second half - 40 minutes to make history.

    Tales has the ball in hand - we're back underway.

  • 41 min: Toner secures the ball in the driving rain. McGrath clears high and Andreu lets it slip in the air. Leinster move it left and Nacewa has space on the outside but his kick ahead is straight into touch.
  • 42 min: Good lineout steal from Leinster and Leavy makes a good rumble but again, Leinster are penalised as they build momentum. Racing tap quickly and a number of big carries gets them up to the Leinster 22 - higher intensity from the Parisians.
  • 44 min: Racing outside the Leinster five and up to 15 phases with an advantage coming - a few huge carries from props Gomes Sa and Ben Arous.

    Absoltely crucial tackle from Nacewa on the right, holding up Chavancy as he tried to release Thomas on the right. Excellent hands from Le Roux to keep the ball alive but after 20 phases it goes loose.

    Iribaren slots the penalty - bright start to the second half from the hosts.

    46 MIN: LEINSTER 6 RACING 92 9

  • 47 min: Andreu picked out with a kick again but the winger gathers safely before Larmour can scrag him. Racing concede a penalty just inside the Leinster half for offside - it's brought forward by 10 after Ben Arous was deemed to have thrown the ball away.

    The extra 10 is enough to tempt Sexton into a kick at goal from just inside the French half - but he snatches at it and hooks it horribly.

  • 50 MIN: LEINSTER 6 RACING 92 9
  • 50 min: Nacewa sees space ahead of him but again his kick is out on the full. The Leinster engine still isn't humming.
  • 51 min: A chance for Leinster running from deep inside their own half - they have men over and Racing are stretched. Henshaw straightens up and breaks through the middle as far as the French 10, before the ball is kicked long, allowing Dupichot to touch down for a 22.
  • 53 min: Furlong has been quiet today, and he spills forward as he makes a trademark burst through two defenders. However, replacement hooker Avei gets pinged for taking Fardy out off the ball.

    A chance for Sexton to level things up from the 10-metre and to the right - he splits the posts.

    54 MIN: LEINSTER 9 RACING 92 9

  • 56 min: Changes for Racing - Kakovin and Johnston are on to freshen things up in the frontrow. Jack McGrath on for Healy.

    Bit of added impetus at the breakdown from Leinster in midfield and Le Roux is penalised for not rolling away.

    The penalty is on halfway, but unperturbed by his last long-range effort Sexton is going to have another pop. This time he strikes it beautifully - but it fades just to the right.

    58 MIN: LEINSTER 9 RACING 92 9

  • 59 min: A brilliant turnover from Chat is waster as Le Roux spills a simple ball with Ryan looming. Big scrum for Leinster, deep inside the Racing 10-metre.
  • 60 MIN: LEINSTER 9 RACING 92 9
  • 61 min: Leinster earn a free-kick from the scrum and Luke McGrath taps and pops to Henshaw who runs a crashing line. A few phases later Ringrose tries to show and go and is hauled down on the 10. Leinster then spill forward and Racing look to punish them - but Dupichot's kick is drilled straight at Ringrose. Leinster can't get anything going at the moment.

    Changes for Leinster - Tracy, Conan and Gibson-Park all coming on.

  • 63 min: Kearney casually covers deep and finds a good touch on halfway but Racing take it quickly. Nyanga returns from halfway with a monster of a carry - Sexton does excellently to haul him down. Space in behind and Racing try to find it with a kick - cunning cover from Gibson-Park to scoot round and call a mark.
  • 64 min: Leinster lineout on halfway and they get slick ball. It's moved right to Chavancy who carries low into Leavy and gets an arm across the chops.

    Penalty to Racing. Iribaren strikes it nicely from distance but pushes it a fraction wide. They're the chances you have to take.

    65 MIN: LEINSTER 9 RACING 92 9

  • 66 min: Porter on the Furlong. He was quiet by his lofty standards. Another burst of intensity from Racing who are now on the Leinster 22 on the far touchline. Leavy nearly intercepts but knocks it forward.
  • 67 min: Racin grinding and thumping their way up towards the Leinster five. Excellent tackle by Henshaw on the giant Nakarawa. Good platform for Racing though.
  • 68 min: 15 monster phases for Racing but Leinster have slowed the ball down. Patient from Racing but too patient! Leavy steals it and Leinster turn it over, that's huge.

    Gibson-Park hacks downfield and Racing have to scramble to cover. But then there's another high tackle from Leinster. Tales finds touch on the right.

  • 69 min: Brilliant lienout maul from Racing and they grind down the right with a penalty advantage. They look to go crossfield but Kearney does enough in the air.

    Back for the penalty - Iribaren will go for goal from the right touchline. The left-footer splits the posts.

    71 MIN: LEINSTER 9 RACING 92 12

  • 72 min: Leinster respond with a break down the right, recovering after a huge hit from Avei on Tracy. Gibson-Park receives an inside ball from Fardy and Leinster are getting quick ball.

    There's a penalty for offside, though, and Barnes brings play back. Nacewa will go for goal and he nails it from the 22. Great response.

    74 MIN: LEINSTER 12 RACING 92 12

  • 75 min: No sign of Racing gassing just yet. Sexton picks out Nyanga in the backfield with a deep kick and the Racing captain makes a huge carry back. Vakatawa is then penalised on the far side after Fardy carried into contact. Great touch finder from Sexton down the left.

    Huge lineout steal from Nakarawa - but then Thomas runs back into trouble on the shortside and Leinster will have another go.

  • 77 min: Good ball for Leinster this time and Ringrose nearly bursts through. Blue shirts steam in to support and Barnes awards a penalty advantage to Leinster under the posts!!!

    Barnes says Nacewa has until 78 mins and 41 seconds to take the kick. He's going to take his time over it.

    He slots it. Leinster lead for the first time.

    79 MIN: LEINSTER 15 RACING 92 12

  • 79 min: Racing steal the ball back from the restart. . .
  • 80 min: Vakatawa carries past the Leinster 10. Last chance saloon for Racing.
  • 81 min: Racing eeking their way up to the 22. Tales is in the pocket. Not yet.
  • 81 min: Back for Tales in the pocket, he misses!!!!
  • FT: LEINSTER 15 RACING 92 12


  • Isa Nacewa: "I don't know where to start. It took a long time to get here. This is for a lot of people, it took a lot of hard work. It's a special day.

    "They're [Racing] world class. All week Johnny said it would be a Test match. Thank god we've got Johnny the old genius to marshall us and take control.

    "I'm going to miss it."

    Johnny Sexton: "We did it the hard way. We couldn't get going at all. It was very greasy, they slowed us down at the ruck. I can't believe we're champions again. I never thought two or three years ago this would happen again."

  • Tadhg Furlong: "It's a weird feeling. It was a weird game of rugby."

  • Fireworks crackle as Nacewa and Sexton lift the trophy together. Leo Cullen and Stuart Lancaster look on proudly.
  • Right, thanks for joining today. Leinster are champions of Europe again - a golden year for Irish rugby gets even better.