Champions Cup draw: Leinster to meet La Rochelle in semi-finals
Four-time winners travel to Ronan O’Gara’s side; Ulster meet Leicester in Challenge Cup
Leinster will play Ronan O’Gara’s La Rochell in the Champions Cup semi-finals. Photograph: Dave Winter/Inpho
Leinster have been drawn away to La Rochelle in the semi-finals of the Heineken Champions Cup, meaning a meeting with the French club’s Director of Rugby, Jono Gibbes as well as their head coach Ronan O’Gara.
Gibbes was Leinster’s forwards coach for six seasons from 2008 to 2014 when they won the first three of their four European Cups. It will be a first meeting between Leinster and La Rochelle, competing in only their third Champions Cup.
The other four-time winners, Toulouse, will host Bordeaux-Begles in the other semi-final in three weeks’ time.
Meanwhile, in the European Challenge Cup, Ulster were drawn away to an English team for the third round in a row against Leciester at Welford Road. Bath will be at home to Montpellier in the other semi-final.
The semi-finals of both competitions will be played on the weekend of April 30th/May 1st/2nd.
Following on from the wins by Leinster and La Rochelle over Exeter and Sale to end English interest in the competition, Bordeaux-Begles and Toulouse will meet in the other semi-final after their 24-21 and 21-12 quarter-final wins over Racing 92 and Clermont in two tryless all-French affairs on Sunday.
Bordeuax were indebted to Mathieu Jalibert, who landed his eighth penalty from 54 metres with the last kick of a poor game in overtime, while after missing his first two, Romain Ntamack landed seven penalties to secure Toulouse’s passage into the last four.
There remains the cloud of covid over the remainder of a tournament already punctuated by cancellations and forced into a restructuring, specifically whether Irish Government restrictions on travel, and the potential need for Leinster to go into quarantine for 14 days in returning to this country from France.
A decision will be made today as to whether the French women’s team will be granted exemption from quarantining in order to fulfill their Six Nations game against Ireland next Saturday at Energia Park (kick-off 2.15pm).
Given the women’s team is semi-professional, were they afforded an exemption, it would seem inevitable therefore that the same would apply for the Champions Cup semi-final in three weeks’ time.
In any event, EPCR will begin seeking clarification from the Government through the IRFU regarding the semi-finals in three weeks’ time.