The French side prevailed 31-22 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to break new European ground


An Antoine Dupont masterclass and Thomas Ramos’s boot ensured Toulouse reigned supreme in Europe once again, winning a sixth Investec Champions Cup after extra time and handing Leinster the most painful hat-trick of consecutive final defeats.

The Top 14 champions edged an enthralling topsy-turvy contest in Tottenham as Matthis Lebel’s score in the fourth minute of the added period and Ramos’s kicking helped Toulouse withstand Richie Arnold’s red card and Josh van der Flier’s try to emerge victorious and further cement their position as the competition’s most successful side.

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There may have been no official tries in the 80 minutes but there were a hatful chalked off and no shortage of action. Nobody leaving North London could have felt short changed. Ciaran Frawley even had the chance to win it in normal time with a long-range drop-goal right at the death but he dragged it agonisingly wide.

But for Leinster it is a bitter pill to swallow as French opposition once again dashed their European dreams after Munster man Ronan O’Gara masterminded La Rochelle to the spoils in the last two finals by just a cumulative four points. It is now four out of the last six showpiece matches in which Leinster have had to make do with runners-up medals, their last triumph coming back in 2018.

Investec Champions Cup final as it happened

Toulouse thought they had got off to the perfect start when Juan Cruz Mallia touched down in the corner inside two minutes but captain Dupont’s boots just flicked the whitewash before he kept the ball alive.

Former Edinburgh man Blair Kinghorn showed off his monster boot to give Toulouse the lead with a penalty inside his own half and he added another from a more comfortable distance just four minutes later to put the French side 6-0 up after two breakdown infringements from Leo Cullen’s men.


Blair Kinghorn’s kicking off the tee got Toulouse going (Inpho)

Leinster continued to threaten without finding the end product required as Ireland wing Lowe seared through the heart of the Toulouse defence but couldn’t find his club and country colleague Jamison Gibson-Park with an inside ball that would have sent him flying over.

Their usual slick hands seemed to desert Leinster who were perhaps feeling the pressure and weight of expectation amid their desperation to not lose three Champions Cup finals on the trot. Eventually they opened their account in the 19th minute as Dorian Aldegheri’s hands in the ruck gave Ross Byrne an easy three points.

Robbie Henshaw’s barnstorming break again had Leinster threatening the Toulouse tryline before they were caught isolated. When Dan Sheehan picked Dupont’s pocket, he sprinted for the line and only Kinghorn’s pace and power stopped him just short. Typically, it was Dupont who got back to win a crucial jackal turnover with Toulouse on the rocks.

The France captain then showed his genius with a perfectly judged 50:22 from the base of a ruck in the 34th minute which eventually led to another three points for Kinghorn as Andrew Porter collapsed a scrum five metres from the Leinster line.

Kinghorn missed the chance to open up a nine-point lead before Lowe thought he had scored in the corner with the clock in the red only for the Leinster cheers to quickly turn to boos when they realised referee Matt Carley had already blown for a penalty to the Irish side which Byrne dispatched to leave it finely poised at 9-6 at half-time.

Second half

There was no drop-off in the frenetic energy of the contest after the break. Leinster chucked on former World Rugby Player of the Year Josh van der Flier, signalling their strength in depth and desire to up the ante.

And when Toulouse strayed offside, Byrne kicked the sides level in the 47th minute. Caelan Doris’s break got Leinster into striking distance and when Jack Willis went off his feet at the breakdown they had the perfect platform with a five-metre lineout. However, once again the maul didn’t go to plan – even the diminutive Dupont found himself in the middle as Toulouse turned the ball over.

Kinghorn’s failure to deal with another Byrne bomb got Leinster going as Joe McCarthy and van der Flier went marauding into the Toulouse 22. But that seemingly inevitable score did not come and Toulouse cleared the danger before manhandling van der Flier into touch.

Kinghorn kicked Toulouse back in front before moving to the wing as Thomas Ramos came on for Costes with Mallia shifitng into the centre with Toulouse forced into a backline reshuffle for the final quarter.

Momentum swung yet again as Willis was caught not rolling in front of the posts, allowing Byrne to draw Leinster level at 12-12 with 15 minutes to play.


Matthis Lebel though he had scored in the corner (Inpho)

Toulouse thought they had struck a killer blow when Ramos’s cross-field kick found Lebel but despite his acrobatic attempt to get the ball down, the replays showed he could not quite escape the touchline. There was no assist for Ramos but he slotted a tough penalty from the sideline to restore Toulouse’s lead with just nine minutes left.

Underlining his ridiculous all-round ability, Dupont popped up with a phenomenal jackal penalty as Leinster once again chucked the kitchen sink at a seemingly impenetrable Toulouse line.

A scrum penalty enabled Ciaran Frawley to make it 15-15 with two minutes left as the game fittingly went right to the wire. Frawley’s composure deserted him when he had the chance to slot a drop-goal to win it with seconds remaining, his effort slipping to the left of the uprights, leaving the game to be decide by extra time.

Extra time: First half

Leinster suffered a terrible start to the added period when Lowe was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on but the usually unflappable Ramos was off target with the resulting penalty. Leinster’s reprieve was short-lived as Toulouse sent the ball through the hands and Ramos put Santiago Chocobares away down the left and he fed Lebel who steamed in for the game’s first try, some 84 minutes after it started.

James Lowe

James Lowe trudges off after being yellow carded (Inpho)

Toulouse benefited from Leinster temporarily being down to 13 in that play with Lowe off and Frawley down injured after a big collision with Kinghorn for which he was assessed but cleared to continue.

Ramos added the conversion and a penalty as Toulouse put the hammer down. The game looked to be theirs when Carley awarded another penalty in kickable range only for replays to show Richie Arnold making head-on-head contact with Cian Healy for which he was shown a red card to briefly level the playing field at 14 men each before Lowe returned to give Leinster the edge as they sought to claw their way back from 25-15 down.

They made immediate headway as van der Flier’s short-range drive was eventually given as a try after a lengthy TMO review adjudged it wasn’t held up and with Frawley’s conversion Leinster went within three at half-time in extra time.

Extra time: Second half

Leinster No 8 Doris’s eagerness to disrupt the breakdown backfired as he put his hands in a ruck that had already formed which allowed Ramos to kick 14-man Toulouse into a six-point lead with seven minutes left on the clock.

The task at hand got even steeper when Julien Marchand’s jackal in a similar position gave Ramos another simple three points and took Toulouse beyond a converted try.

With time running out, Frawley lined up another drop goal to make it a one-score game and give Leinster a faint sniff but again he was off target and Ramos started the celebrations with the Toulouse fans behind the posts. Champions again and the first to win six.

The final moments were reserved for Dupont who was announced as the Player of the Match and the Investec Player of the Year. His golden run may yet take in the Top 14 and the small matter of a home Olympic Games in Paris.

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