FT La Rochelle 9 Leinster 16: Champions Cup as it happened

Leinster win to avenge last year’s final thanks to strong defensive performance


La Rochelle 9 Leinster 16


Here is that monster kick by Frawley:


80 mins: Ciaran Frawley goes for goal from 60 metres and he makes it! Monster kick and Leinster have beaten La Rochelle!

FULL-TIME: La Rochelle 9 Leinster 16

Unbelievable kick by Frawley at the end but it was Leinster’s brilliant defensive effort that won that game in very tough conditions in France. They were under pressure but they survived again and again. A big victory for the Irish province and revenge for the final last season.


78 mins: La Rochelle find some space on the wing and then Danty gets through but O’Brien tackles well. Two minutes until 80 and La Rochelle still quite a distance from the line... and then Leinster steal, Josh van der Flier!


75 mins: La Rochelle win a penalty for Leinster offside in front of the posts, 22 metres out. New outhalf Reus goes for touch instead of the posts, big call. They win the lineout but from the maul the ball is knocked on and Leinster have a scrum.


71 mins: Leinster’s defence has been top-notch today, Nienaber will be proud. Some kick tennis before Porter has a great knockdown of Hastoy’s kick. Leinster chase the ball at the try line but La Rochelle get it down. Frawley goes for a drop goal from a decent distance out but just pulls it and misses.


68 mins: La Rochelle win a lineout and a box kick from Dulin puts Leinster under a lot of pressure but Keenan is rock solid in collecting and holding the ball and getting Leinster through without conceding a try for another few minutes.


65 mins: La Rochelle clear the ball but Henshaw lets it through his hands and gives away a lineout in the middle of the pitch. La Rochelle throwing their weight around with mauls and win a penalty. Hastoy from 42 metres out this time going for goal... he slices it, perhaps the wind caught it but it’s his first miss of the day and Leinster still four ahead.


62 mins: Straight from the restart, Bourgarit wins a penalty and straight to the corner for La Rochelle. but the lineout throw is overthrown and Leinster survive.


59 mins: Ngatai makes a big break, 10 or 12 metres and wins a penalty. Frawley knocks it over and three more for Leinster and extends the gap to four with 20 left!


56 mins: Henshaw makes some ground and Leinster get running at La Rochelle in midfield but Frawley drops the slippery ball and it’s a scrum to La Rochelle.


52 mins: Leinster are struggling a lot the first 10 minutes of the second half, being dominated in the scrum. La Rochelle win a penalty and Hastoy scores with another accurate kick. Back to a point.


47 mins: La Rochelle putting on serious pressure now, making line breaks. Leinster concede another penalty five metres out. La Rochelle opt for the scrum this time and win a scrum penalty. They go quickly and just held up on the line. But it’s held up by Leinster! They hang on.


43 mins: Second half begins. La Rochelle have a strong start with their running game and have an attacking lineout but the short lineout is well dealt with by Leinster and they bundle them out of play. Great defence.


HALF-TIME: La Rochelle 6 Leinster 10

Here is the only try of the half:

It’s been a dogfight at Stade Marcel Deflandre as both teams struggle with the conditions. It’s not been vintage Leinster, so they will be delighted to have a four-point lead at the break.


39 mins: Box kick by Gibson-Park finds Keenan and Leinster have maybe one last attack before the end of the half. They win a penalty as Gibson-Park is bundled over. Harry Byrne is down injured, he’s got some hard hits today. Ciaran Frawley will come on as Byrne gets assessed. Leinster opt for the posts and Frawley brings the tee with him, straight off the bench. He scores! And Leinster lead at half time.


36 mins: A mistake by Byrne as his kick goes out the endline and gives La Rochelle a scrum. La Rochelle win a penalty from the scrum and Hastoy opts for the posts. Straight over, nicely converted and it’s back to one point.


33 mins: A nasty blood injury for Andrew Porter as Cian Healy comes in. Ugly conditions very understandably leading to a bitty game.


29 mins: Superb curving kick by Byrne gains a lot of territory for Leinster and from the resulting lineout, La Rochelle knock the ball on. Scrum for Leinster is fine but they don’t make any ground and Danty has a big tackle and turns over the ball.


25 mins: La Rochelle get a penalty as Danty and McCarthy come back, attacking lineout is successful and the maul edges towards the line. Another penalty for La Rochelle, McCarthy penalised immediately after returning. Five metres out, another lineout. McCarthy almost stole but La Rochelle keep it. Leinster under serious pressure. Botia slithers through the bodies and gets it over the line, but the referee judges that he did not make an effort to get back on his feet. Leinster reprieve and penalty.


21 mins: La Rochelle lose the ball, knocked on and Leinster turn it over. Leinster don’t gain much territory though and a box kick by Gibson-Park is claimed as a mark by Dulin who kicks for touch after he initially hit Ringrose with a quick one. Ball goes back and forth but Gibson-Park drops a high ball under no pressure and it’s a scrum to La Rochelle.


17 mins: More discipline issues for La Rochelle after a high tackle by Botia on Harry Byrne. Lands hard on his shoulder/back, a very nasty fall and the last thing they want is another injury to the outhalf. Just a penalty and Byrne continues.


Referee looking back at the brawl on video. Yellow cards for Joe McCarthy and Jonathan Danty! It’s 14 men each.

They go again and again another penalty. TRY FOR LEINSTER! Tap and go, got the defenders narrow and O’Brien with the long pass to Larmour in an acre of space to score. Harry Byrne scores the conversion.


11 mins: Leinster win a penalty from the scrum and Dan Sheehan takes a touch penalty. They almost get to the line but Atonio is penalised and tempers are flaring, leading to a big row between both sets of players. Quite a scrap and the referee’s whistle is making no difference. Some punishments coming up.


7 mins: Some early kicking by both sides. Leinster win a penalty after Jimmy O’Brien was heavily tackled off the ball by Botia. A sign of their physicality. Some bite in it early on from both teams.


3 mins: Matt Williams called it a Rumble in the Jungle and it’s some Vietnam-like monsoon conditions as La Rochelle have the early running and Joe McCarthy gives away a penalty for offside. Hastoy kicks it over and La Rochelle take the lead!


One last preview to get you in the mood. Matt Williams writes Leinster and La Rochelle’s latest showdown has all the hallmarks of boxing’s Thrilla in Manilla or Rumble in the Jungle. No shortage of hype then!

It’s a very wet afternoon in France:

Kick off in under five minutes.



A look at the other Champions Cup results featuring Irish teams. Munster let a winning opportunity slide by as Bayonne fought back for draw yesterday evening. Remy Baget’s late try and touchline conversion from Thomas Dolhagaray earned the French side two points.

Bath blew Ulster out of the water with a devastating second-half showing. Ulster led by six points at the break but shipped 29 points without reply after the break.

Connacht suffered a rude awakening at the hands of Bordeaux. Mack Hansen departed early as the western province struggled badly against their French opponents.

Not a great start then. Leinster will hope for better.


It is a big game for Harry Byrne at outhalf after his brother was ruled out injured and Sexton’s retirement, he has been thrown into the deep end for the province.

“He’s such a talented player, Harry. This is a huge step now. That’s the thing, the players just need to take the step. What a way to do it, away in France,” said head coach Leo Cullen, citing Byrne’s composed Champions Cup debut off the bench in a 35-14 win in Montpellier four years ago almost this weekend, since when he’s been restricted him to just six more Europe appearances.


Gordon D’Arcy has rightly called this “the game of the weekend”. “There’s no bedding in. Whoever wins this match creates a little breathing space to take into the following weekend’s game, in Leinster’s case against the Sale Sharks in the Aviva Stadium.

“La Rochelle will go back to basics and rely on their talented roster to be the point of difference. Leinster have always offered more than the sum of their parts, but this weekend is a match they cannot play second fiddle in those key, game-defining, individual moments.

“Leinster have perhaps become a little too predictable, the onus is on a few people to break those shackles this weekend. Predictable plays into the French giant’s hands, anything else levels the field.”


Gerry Thornley has an interesting piece on La Rochelle today, and how their season has not gone to plan so far. Ronan O’Gara’s team are ninth in the top 14 as they struggle to overcome post-World Cup hangover. Grégory Alldritt is a big miss as the heartbeat of their team in recent seasons, he had agreed with the club to take a break after the World Cup until January.

“The top two by a distance last season, such have been the demands on Toulouse and La Rochelle, both domestically last season and in the World Cup, that they sit sixth and ninth with five wins out of nine and four out of nine.”


Hello and welcome to live coverage of the Champions Cup pool match between Leinster and La Rochelle. Kick off is at 3.15pm at Stade Marcel Deflandre.

It’s a big one to kick off Leinster’s campaign, against the defending champions who beat them in Dublin in May. There is no Ronan O’Gara for this one due to a suspension he incurred for dissent to officials in the French Top 14 but the former Munster man will no doubt have prepped his team well after having Leinster’s number for the last few years. For Leinster, it is a first Champions Cup game for the recently appointed Rugby World Cup-winning coach Jacques Nienaber. The teams:

Leinster: Hugo Keenan; Jordan Larmour, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, Jimmy O’Brien; Harry Byrne, Jamison Gibson-Park; Andrew Porter, Dan Sheehan, Michael Ala’alatoa; Joe McCarthy, James Ryan; Ryan Baird, Will Connors, Caelan Doris.

Replacements: Rónan Kelleher, Cian Healy, Thomas Clarkson, Jason Jenkins, Josh van der Flier, Ben Murphy, Ciarán Frawley, Charlie Ngatai.

La Rochelle: Brice Dulin; Dillyn Leyds, Ulupano Seuteni, Jonathan Danty, Jules Favre; Antoine Hastoy, Tawerra Kerr-Barlow; Reda Wardi, Pierre Bourgarit (capt), Uini Atonio; Thomas Lavault, Will Skelton, Paul Budehent, Levani Botia, Yoan Tanga.

Replacements: Sacha Idoumi, Joel Sclavi, Georges-Henri Colombe Reazel, Ultan Dillane, Rémi Picquette, Judicael Concoriet, Teddy Iribaren, Hugo Reus.

Referee: Matthew Carley (RFU)