Dan Sheridan/INPHO

As it happened: Leinster v La Rochelle, Champions Cup quarter-final

Finalists from the past two seasons meet in crunch last-eight tie at the Aviva Stadium.

Leinster v La Rochelle

WELCOME TO OUR live coverage of Leinster v La Rochelle, the biggest quarter-final in Irish rugby since . . . well, October, probably. Nevertheless, this does feel rather more important than a typical last-eight tie. 

Hugo Keenan’s absence is the main pre-game talking point, Ciarán Frawley steps into the starting line-up with Harry Byrne coming into the replacements. 

While you wait for kickoff, here are some fine pieces published this week on The 42 that you will enjoy: 

Analysis from Murray Kinsella – 14 weeks later: Can Nienaber’s defence carry Leinster past La Rochelle 

Gavan Casey on La Rochelle’s Cork build-up and Gavin Cooney on Ronan O’Gara, continuity Corkness.  

And here is Ciarán Kennedy’s match preview.

Here are the teams:


  • 15. Ciarán Frawley

  • 14. Jordan Larmour

  • 13. Robbie Henshaw

  • 12. Jamie Osborne

  • 11. James Lowe

  • 10. Ross Byrne

  • 9. Jamison Gibson-Park


  • 1. Andrew Porter

  • 2. Dan Sheehan

  • 3. Tadhg Furlong

  • 4. Joe McCarthy

  • 5. Jason Jenkins

  • 6. Ryan Baird

  • 7. Will Connors

  • 8. Caelan Doris (capt)


  • 16. Rónan Kelleher

  • 17. Michael Milne

  • 18. Michael Ala’alatoa

  • 19. Ross Molony

  • 20. Jack Conan

  • 21. Luke McGrath

  • 22. Harry Byrne

  • 23. Josh van der Flier


La Rochelle:

  • 15. Dillyn Leyds

  • 14. Jack Nowell

  • 13. UJ Seuteni

  • 12. Jonathan Danty

  • 11. Teddy Thomas

  • 10. Antoine Hastoy

  • 9. Tawera Kerr-Barlow


  • 1. Louis Penverne

  • 2. Tolu Latu

  • 3. Uini Atonio

  • 4. Ultan Dillane

  • 5. Will Skelton

  • 6. Judicael Cancoriet

  • 7. Levani Botia

  • 8. Greg Alldritt (capt)


  • 16. Quentin Lespiaucq-Brettes

  • 17. Alexandre Kaddouri

  • 18. Joel Sclavi

  • 19. Thomas Lavault

  • 20. Paul Boudehent

  • 21. Yoan Tanga

  • 22. Teddy Iribaren

  • 23. Ihaia West

leo-cullen-with-ryan-baird Leo Cullen and Ryan Baird converse pre-game. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

donnacha-ryan-and-ronan-ogara Donnacha Ryan and Ronan O'Gara looking suitably excited. Billy Stickland / INPHO Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO


1′ – LEN 0-0 LAR:

 Game on at a sold-out Aviva. Ross Byrne gets us going. 

2′ – LEN 0-0 LAR:

And Leinster have an attacking platform, a lineout just outside the 22, but La Rochelle steal the throw and clear. Leinster win a penalty from the clearance and Byrne pings it towards the corner.  

8′ – LEN 3-0 LAR:

Ross Byrne with a kick for goal from just outside the 10m line and to the left after Leinster win a third penalty. A sweet strike from the kicker.

11′ – LEIN 3-0 LAR:

La Rochelle get into the Leinster 22 for the first time and maul towards the line but Leinster steal possession and Jamison Gibson-Park clears to touch.

13′ – LEIN 3-0 LAR:

Jordan Larmour with a big turnover from a La Rochelle counter-attack. Leinster win the penalty and Ross Byrne kicks them up the field. 


17′ – LEIN 10-0 LAR:

Multiple phases from Leinster, the ball goes across the pitch and back again – with quick hands and powerful running – to the left wing where James Lowe touches down. Byrne adds the conversion. It’s been an excellent start from Leinster. 

19′ – LEIN 10-3 LAR:

La Rochelle on the board thanks to a penalty from Antoine Hastoy.  

22′ – LEIN 10-3 LAR:

Another promising situation for Leinster. A tap and go penalty results in Gibson Park lunging for the line by the left post. He is judged to have been held up. Dropout from the goal line. 

26′ – LEIN 13-3 LAR:

Ross Byrne with an attempt at goal from a penalty 48 metres out. He nails it with not long on the short clock. A clean strike following a two-step up run up.

29′ – LEIN 13-6 LAR:

Antoine Hastoy with an immediate response. Leinster’s dominance not quite reflected on the board. 

31′ – LEIN 16-6 LAR:

Yet another penalty for Leinster and again Ross Byrne converts.  

33′ – LEIN 13-3 LAR:

Leinster not releasing in the tackle and a penalty for La Rochelle following one of the few times they have put phases together. It’s kicked down the line. 

35′ – LEIN 16-6 LAR:

Ryan Baird steals the throw. Leinster clear but James Lowe overcooks it. The wind takes the ball dead and we’re back in the Leinster 22 for a scrum for La Rochelle. 

39′ – LEIN 23-6 LAR:

Exquisite Leinster try.

Lowe flicks an interesting pass to Gibson Park who touches down. Pass is reviewed, but judged not forward because it hits the scrum half on the shoulder and goes forward before he gathers and strides over to touch down. Byrne converts. Leinster in a dominant position now as half time approaches.   

40 + 4′ – LEIN 23-13 LAR:

La Rochelle try!

Just what the champions needed and Leinster didn’t want. The last play of the half sees La Rochelle drive over from a lineout – unclear at the moment who got the touch down under so many bodies – after multiple penalties conceded by Leinster. Hastoy converts. It’s delicately poised for the second half. 

Louis Penverne with the try.  

What a pulsating first half. Leinster will rue the fact they are not further ahead. They have played with attacking menace and breathless linespeed and aggression in defence. La Rochelle have been ill-disciplined, yet have persevered like the champions they are. The late try changes the feel of the contest. Back with the second half shortly.  

And we’re back underway. 

43′ – LEIN 28-13 LAR:

Try for Leinster, Ryan Baird, but a La Rochelle player, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, is injured and receiving attention.

43′ – LEIN 28-13 LAR:

Kerr-Barlow’s head was on the wrong side in a tackle, according to referee Karl Dickson. 

44′ – LEIN 30-13 LAR:

The injured player leaves to huge applause. Byrne converts. 

47′ – LEIN 30-13 LAR:

Ihaia West, who has just come on, is down injured. So too is Dan Sheehan, who has just got back to his feet.  

50′ – LEIN 30-13 LAR:

Gibson Park wins a huge penalty for Leinster after sustained La Rochelle possession.  

The booing of ROG whenever he appears on the big screen has been a feature of this game. It’s the least of his problems at the moment. If Leinster score next you sense there is no way back.  

55′ – LEIN 30-13 LAR:

Yet another Leinster penalty. La Rochelle’s discipline has been lacking, badly. The blues are back in the 22.   

57′ – LEIN 35-13 LAR:

Leinster try! 

Dan Sheehan sprints over and touches own in the left corner after the ball is swept wide. There’s no way back for the French side now, barring a series of extraordinary events. Byrne hits the post with the conversation, but the gap is wide now.   

61′ – LEIN 40-13 LAR:

Leinster try! 

Oh wow – James Lowe gathers a sweet crossfield kick from Robbie Henshaw, fends off Jack Nowell, and gets over for another try. It’s a procession now. Ciarán Frawley hits the post with the conversion. Harry Byrne is on for his brother Ross.  

68′ – LEIN 40-13 LAR:

Will Skelton has hobbled off. It’s been that kind of day for La Rochelle. They defend their line with a scrum now. 

And win the penalty, a rare positive outcome.  

72′ – LEIN 40-13 LAR:

Huge ovation for Gibson-Park, who is replaced by Luke McGrath.  

77′ – LEIN 40-13 LAR:

Joe McCarthy wins a big penalty for Leinster as La Rochelle attack the line following a 50-22. La Rochelle’s frustration overcomes them. It’s been a testing day. 

79′ – LEIN 40-13 LAR:

For Leinster, well if you want to slay your mental demons, you may as well do it in style. The pool win over La Rochelle – 16-9 in December – was big but this feels seismic. Leinster will march onto Croke Park now and take some stopping in this competition. We’ve said that before – but this has been a serious statement from the province. 


And Harry Byrne kicks it dead as Leinster progress. It was a magnificent showing from the province. The final scoreline indicates an easy win, but it was hard earned. With a 10-point lead at half-time there must have been nervous moments. Perhaps the key score of the game was Baird’s try just after half-time, re-establishing a momentum that Leinster would not cede.   

That’s it from us here. Plenty of reporting, analysis and reaction coming your way on The 42 over the coming hours and days. Thanks. 

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