RugbyTalking Point

Turnovers cost Leinster dearly in tight match with Toulouse

It is not in Leinster’s character to be so feckless with the ball, as they were beaten in Champions Cup final

The match statistics show that the winners Toulouse won 19 turnovers against Leinster in the Champions Cup final in rucks or mauls. That compared to eight won by Leinster was a point of difference.

What it does not show is the positions on the field the teams were in when the turnovers occurred, the scoreline at the time, the stage of the game or the consequences. It also does not show the knock-ons and handling errors that compounded Leinster’s turnover problems.

It is a rare thing to see Leinster give back the ball as often and meekly as they did in the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and as the game went on to swing towards them and then away from them, the turnover count went a long way towards costing them the match.

The first eye catching turnover was when Dan Sheehan made a break after he wrestled the ball from Antoine Dupont and streaked up the pitch like a centre to almost the length of the park. A covering tackle from Scotland’s Blair Kinghorn took him down five metres out but there was only Jamie Osborne around as Toulouse then helped themselves to the grounded ball.


Robbie Henshaw, who played well, threw the ball behind Jamison Gibson-Park in a promising first half attack, while Osborne was turned over twice during the same period. The colossus that is Jason Jenkins rammed through early on and spilled the ball forward, while the excellent Sheehan was also turned over.

The hooker’s replacement Ronan Sheehan came in and got involved quickly. Taking the ball to ground in the French 22, Dupont came in and claimed it for himself. Even captain Caelan Doris, who had a strong performance, played the ball on the ground with his hand during injury time. English referee Matthew Carley saw it. Penalty.

It is not in Leinster’s character to be so feckless with the ball and although it was often a frantic match as both teams at times felt the heat in the cauldron that was the London stadium, the inaccuracies and errors accumulated.

Sure, Ciarán Frawley was a drop goal effort away from winning the match for Leinster, which will make it hurt more acute given the way it ran away from them during injury time.

But what position could Leinster have put themselves in had they been able to half the 19 turnovers that went against them in rucks and mauls in what was an arm wrestle of a game. Nobody can answer that question but most likely in a far better place than they were.