The Aviva is set to heave tomorrow with the song of the Leinster faithful as Johnny Sexton and co. face up to the might of defending champions Toulouse.
This will mark the 13th time that these foes have done battle in European competition, making it one of the oldest and most celebrated rivalries.
Toulouse are no strangers to Champions Cup play-offs, having participated in a total of 13 to date, while Leinster themselves are old campaigners who will turn out in their twelfth.
A look at the stats pertaining to contest between these two teams makes for very interesting reading. Of the twelve times they have locked horns, each side has 6 victories to their names.
The last time they met was back in 2019 – a 30-12 victory for the Irish outfit:
Speaking ahead of the game, Leinster winger James Lowe noted the colossal nature of the impending clash.
“In any sort of club rugby, I think this is as big as it gets. They’ve got five stars on the chest, something we have been striving for the last few years. They are the current holders and the current TOP 14 champions. To win this title you have got to beat the best.”
This from Toulouse second-row Rory Arnold:
“I think they’ll play field position a fair bit and put our back three under pressure. I think if we can defend well and exit clinically, that will be a massive part of getting a result. It’s a step up when it comes to European rugby. It’s quicker, it’s [more] physical.”
- This will be the fourth time Leinster and Toulouse have met in the semi-finals of the Heineken Champions Cup, the most played fixture at this stage of the competition (Munster v Saracens, 3 times). Toulouse won the first semi-final clash between the clubs at Stadium de Toulouse in 2009/10, while Leinster have won their two such meetings since then.
- Since losing to Toulouse in the pool stage of the Heineken Champions Cup in 2018/19, Leinster have gone on to win 21 of their 24 fixtures in the competition (L3, excl. cancelled matches).
- Toulouse are unbeaten in their last five trips to Ireland in the Heineken Champions Cup, winning four games before eliminating Munster in a place-kicking competition in last weekend’s quarter-finals.
- Toulouse (2.79) and Leinster (2.85) are the only sides to boast an average ruck speed under three seconds in the Heineken Champions Cup this season. In defence, only Sale Sharks (4.15) have slowed down their opponents’ rucks more than Toulouse (3.99).
- Leinster have averaged the most metres (930) and line breaks (10.2) per game of any club in the Heineken Champions Cup this season, while Toulouse have beaten the most defenders (31.8) and made the most offloads (16.4) on average.
- Toulouse scrum-half Antoine Dupont has averaged six defenders beaten per game in the Heineken Champions Cup this season, the most of any player to feature more than once this campaign. Only Ulster Rugby’s Michael Lowry (29) has beaten more defenders than last year’s EPCR European Player of the Year (24).
- Toulouse full-back Thomas Ramos has made the most offloads of any player in the Heineken Champions Cup this season (16), while he has the best goal-kicking success rate of anyone to attempt more than 10 kicks at goal in 2021/22 (90%, 17/19).
- Leinster wing James Lowe has scored eight tries in the Heineken Champions Cup this season, more than any other player, while no player has made more line breaks than the Leinster wing (9, level with Lowry and ASM Clermont Auvergne’s Alivereti Raka).