La Rochelle    coach Ronan O’Gara: ‘I’m very proud of what this club has . . .  but at the same time, there’s a game to play and you know I’m in it to win. I’m not in it to partake.’ Photograph: Xavier Leoty/AFP via Getty Images

It’s rare for a club to win the Heineken Champions Cup without having cut their teeth and suffered a little pain along the way. Pedigree also counts, (...)

Lest the IRFU forget, Leinster would never have won their first Champions Cup without Isa Nacewa, Chris Whitaker, Stan Wright and Rocky Elsom. Photograph: Dave Winter/Inpho

In the fallout from Sunday’s sobering events in La Rochelle we can’t forget Leinster’s excellent display in the laquarter-final win away to Exeter. To(...)

There were further examples this weekend of  French television coverage of matches in European tournaments not showing any ‘worthwhile’ replays of any contentious moments that do not favour the French club. File photograph: Inpho

French TV coverage La Rochelle were worthy and deserving winners and Leinster can have no complaints based on their performance but one aspect of the(...)

Leinster’s Ross Byrne dejected after their 32-23 loss to La Rochelle in the Heineken Champions Cup semi-final at Stade Marcel Deflandre on Sunday. Photograph: Manuel Blondeau/Inpho

So, no five-star Heineken Champions Cup final after all, rather a sixth all-French final after La Rochelle thoroughly eclipsed Leinster to earn a deci(...)

La Rochelle’s Will Skelton against Gloucester in the Champions Cup Round of 16 at Kingsholm Stadium, England. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/InphoLa

Not the least disconcerting factor for Leinster’s prospects in La Rochelle on Sunday is the presence of Jono Gibbes and Ronan O’Gara in the home coach(...)

 Raymond Rhule of La Rochelle kicks the ball past Sale’s Simon Hammersley  to score their fourth try during the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final at Stade Marcel Deflandre  in La Rochelle. Photograph: Lionel Hahn/Getty Images

La Rochelle 45 Sale 21 Ronan O’Gara’s La Rochelle side booked a slot in the Heineken Champions Cup semi-finals after a storming second half saw them (...)

Ulster lock Iain Henderson is tackled during the  Champions Cup match against  La Rochelle at the Marcel Deflandre stadium. Photograph: Xavier Leoty/AFP/Getty Images

La Rochelle 41 Ulster 17 La Rochelle maintained a winning start to their debut Champions Cup campaign by following victory at Harlequins with a 41-17(...)

Andrew Trimble:  will pop up from the blindside wing, taking passes inside or outside outhalf Christian Lealiifano. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

La Rochelle v Ulster, Stade Marcel Deflandre (3.15, Sunday, live on Sky Sports) Ulster’s team selection reveals a little of their mindset, or more (...)

Mils Muliaina, confronted here by Phil Burleigh of Edinburgh, will captain Connacht against La Rochelle. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

One of the abiding memories from the Sportsground last week was the performance of 25-year-old Connacht wing Matt Healy. He was quite simply exceptio(...)

Harlequins director of rugby Conor O’Shea agrees that English club rugby is on the up but is not convinced the overall quality has greatly improved. Photograph: Tom Shaw/Getty Images

In the week that JJ Hanrahan’s regrettable departure to Northampton was confirmed, the threat looming over the provinces from the English Premiership (...)

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