Toulouse wins its sixth star after extra time after a suffocating final against Leinster

Toulouse wins its sixth star after extra time after a suffocating final against Leinster
Toulouse wins its sixth star after extra time after a suffocating final against Leinster

The match: 31-22 (ap)

The poster was so grandiose that it could only give rise to one scenario of this kind, a crazy final between two teams who both wanted to set their European superiority in stone. But in the end, it was the Toulouse people who won the titanic showdown and won this Champions Cup that they know better than anyone.

After a perfect start, Antoine Dupont and his teammates suffered a lot, contenting themselves with defending in their camp, like a boxer stuck in the ropes. But the Irish waves seemed less thunderous than usual, and the Leinster game lacked the oil in the cogs that made it one of the most perfect clockworks in world rugby.

In front at the break (9-6), the Toulouse residents retained this short lead in the money-time. But more resilient than ever, the province of Leinster snatched the equalizer two minutes from the siren (15-15). She could even have stolen the victory on the gong if the drop attempted by Ciaran Frawley had gone a little further to the right, but this failure ultimately sent the two challengers into overtime.

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This is the third time that Toulouse has won a Champions Cup final after extra time. The Stade had already achieved this performance in 1996 (against Cardiff) and in 2005 (against Stade Français).

Sanctioned with a yellow card for a voluntary forward, James Lowe had to leave his partners at 14, and Toulouse immediately took advantage. Well offset by a perfectly timed pass from Thomas Ramos, Santiago Chocobares placed Matthis Lebel in orbit for the first try of a stifling final (83rd). Leinster even seemed on the brink of the precipice when Richie Arnold was guilty of a shoulder charge into Cian Healy’s face. A fault punished with a red card, which restarted the match again.

Just before half-time of extra time, Josh Van der Flier scored the try of hope for Leinster (25-22, 90th + 5). Sitting on the sidelines with his head in his hands, Arnold must have had some nasty thoughts on his mind. Fortunately, his partners took the upper hand in the second period of overtime thanks to a lot of activity from the forwards. Ramos was responsible for widening a crippling gap which offers Toulouse its sixth crown and leaves Leinster with new headaches, after its two finals lost against La Rochelle in 2022 and 2023.

29

In a final marked by impressive defenses, Jack Willis was monumental. The English third line from Toulouse succeeded 29 tacklesthe best total of the match.

The player: Dupont in another dimension

Everyone knows that Antoine Dupont is one of the very best (if not the best) offensive players on the planet. But on Saturday, the captain of the Blues and Stade Toulousain delivered a defensive recital of another dimension. His aggressive tackles and climbs undermined his opposite number Jamison Gibson-Park. He also did his team a lot of good by scratching four balls, including a capital one 10 meters from his line (74th), without forgetting his titanic work to make a dangerous Leinster maul unproductive. A mutant performance. One more.

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