Toulouse lift sixth Champions Cup title after extra-time win

Toulouse lift sixth Champions Cup title after extra-time win

Toulouse lifted the Investec Champions Cup after extra-time in an astonishing final against Leinster Rugby at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

The match, which finished 31-22 to the French club, will go down as one of the greatest in the competition’s history, the two clubs giving everything in over 100 minutes of truly world-class rugby.

With the scores tied at 15-15 after full-time, the match went to 20 minutes of extra-time, which saw two tries, two cards and, crucially, three penalties from the boot of Stade Toulousain replacement fly-half Thomas Ramos.

It was the third final to be decided in extra-time, 2024 joining the 1996 and 2005 finals. Incredibly, all three have been won by Toulouse – who have now won a record six stars in EPCR's elite competition.

Toulouse scrum-half and captain Antoine Dupont was named both Investec Player of the Match and Investec Player of the Year, capping another special campaign from the man widely regarded as the greatest player in the world.

If the pre-match atmosphere was electric, the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium truly erupted after the whistle – and it remained a cauldron of noise for the entire, extraordinary game.

From the very first minute, the match was played at the highest level of intensity; from Toulouse nearly scoring an early try with their very first attack to Leinster Rugby battling to the very end.

There may have been no tries in normal time, but both teams got within millimetres of the tryline on several occasions. Both clubs had to call upon try-saving tackles, with full-back Blair Kinghorn and wing Jordan Larmour bailing out their respective clubs.

Kinghorn kicked 12 of Toulouse’s 15 ordinary time points, with four of Leinster Rugby’s penalties kicked by Ross Byrne and the fifth by his replacement Ciaran Frawley.

Throughout the match, Leinster Rugby had tended to go to touch when the opportunity arrived in north London but had encountered the strong resistance of Toulouse’s defence.

As the clock ticked up to 70 minutes it was still impossible to split the sides. There was a moment when Matthis Lebel thought he had won the game for Toulouse, but a tackle forced the wing’s trailing leg into touch before he could dot down.

In Toulouse territory, Frawley went for the drop-goal to win the title but shanked it left. The clock ticked over 80 minutes and Romain Ntamack – playing at centre at this point – opted to back Toulouse’s endurance, kicking the ball out to send the game to extra-time: it proved the right decision.

The 61,531 fans in the stadium were off their feet – they had come for 80 minutes of high-class rugby, and instead would see at least 100.

Extra-time proved to be just as dramatic as the first 80 minutes - almost immediately, things turned sour for Leinster Rugby as James Lowe was shown yellow. That opened up the space for Lebel to race away and score the game's opening try, Ramos adding a further five from the tee with a penalty and a conversion.

But soon it was Toulouse’s turn to go down to 14 – this time the card was red, with Richie Arnold given his marching orders just before what would have been the end of the first-half of extra-time – but Leinster Rugby kicked to touch and finally, this time, they had their try.

It was replacement Josh van der Flier who made the final metres and, after a lengthy TMO check, Frawley kicked the extras to put Leinster Rugby within three points of a 14-man Toulouse with 10 minutes to play.

But finals in this competition have been cruel to Leinster Rugby in recent years.

By the halfway point of the second-half of extra-time, the 14 men of Stade Toulousain had extended their lead to nine points thanks to two more Ramos penalties, which punished a lack of discipline from the tired Irish team.

For the third year in a row, Leinster Rugby fell at the final hurdle. Their search for a fifth title goes on, but for Toulouse the sixth star has arrived.

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