Relive the 2006 Champions Cup Final between Leinster v Toulouse

Relive the 2006 Champions Cup Final between Leinster v Toulouse

Saturday’s Investec Champions Cup finalists have met 14 times over the years, with Leinster Rugbywinning 8 times.

One or two clashes have been a little hum-drum, one or two others perhaps a little too one-sided, but most have been excellent, with none better than this one: 

2006: Stade Toulousain 35 Leinster Rugby 41

A sold-out Le Stadium in France, brass band in full flow and a quarter-final in which a Shane Horgan try caused commentator Will Chignell to go all falsetto in admiration. 

Stade Toulousain were reigning champions.

Leinster Rugby’s team were also not short of a little stardust.

Back in those days, penalties were the bigger currency in games and Leinster Rugby had the slightly larger share of five of them in the first quarter to lead 9-6.  

After 26 minutes, the Leinstermen gave us an inkling of what was to come when Felipe Contepomi and Horgan combined brilliantly to send Brian O’Driscoll in under the posts. 

It was 19-9 to Leinster Rugby at the break, but the hosts came out burning and two Jean-Baptiste Élissalde penalties and a Frederic Michalak drop-goal closed that gap to 19-18. 

A brain fade from Michalak saw him chuck a panic interception to Leinster Rugby flanker Cameron Jowitt to put Leinster Rugby 26-18 ahead, only for Élissalde to notch another three points to make it 26-21. 

What happened next is the stuff of Leinster folklore. Yannick Nyanga burst through and took the ball deep into Leinster’s 22. The ball went wide, but a pass from Michalak was within an ace of being intercepted by Horgan. Contepomi dived on the loose ball and launched a huge pass to Denis Hickie, who left Fabien Pelous loping furiously in vain. Hickie passed inside to Gordon D’Arcy, who passed back to Hickie, with the latter finding just enough room to ride Vincent Clerc’s tackle and score in the corner.  

“That. Is. Aaaaawesome!” enthused Chignell. But Contepomi couldn’t land the extras and at 31-21 it was all still to play for. 

Not for much longer. Leinster Rugby conjured up a peculiar switch move in midfield, sending Girvan Dempsey into a hole. The pass to Horgan was right, but it didn’t look like a scoring pass, until the huge Irish winger stepped inside Cédric Heymans, shrugged off Clément Poitrenaud’s limp tackle and got to the line.  

“Hor-gaaaaa-aaa-aaan,” shouted Chignell, the middle three a’s jumping several unplanned octaves as he strove to be heard over the Leinster fans. 

It was game over. Stade Toulousain scored two late tries, but that 10-minute period between the 56th and 66th minutes (when Contepomi made it 41-21 with a penalty) remain etched in Leinster Rugby’s EPCR history. 

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