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26th May 2024

Jamie Heaslip left speechless as Leinster lose third successive Champions Cup final

Ronan Calvert

Jamie Heaslip

Jamie Heaslip looked forlorn in the RTÉ studio.

Jamie Heaslip represented Leinster fans everywhere after Saturday’s 31-22 Champions Cup final defeat to Toulouse.

To lose any cup final is a kick in the teeth, but to lose a second and then a third in as many seasons is enough to leave any fan speechless.

This was a game when Leinster dominated possession for long spells, played lots of rugby in Toulouse’s 22 and kicked to the corner on repeated occasions.

Toulouse, however, came up with the solutions time and time again, answering every Leinster attack with a more emphatic “no” than that of the time Heaslip floated a potential podcast.

That colossal defensive performance, which included a hoard of last-ditch turnover penalties acted as a constant reminder to Leinster of the mountainous challenge at hand.

Then, when the French side had opportunities of their own – they were clinical. The TMO chalked off two tries in normal time with either touchline serving as Leinster’s last line of defence, and extra time saw the deadlock broken through livewire winger Matthis Lebel.

Leinster’s efforts were admirable, but up against French giants and their own giant demons, the longer the game went on, the harder it became for them.

Having lost the previous two finals against La Rochelle, there are now serious questions hanging over the mentality of this Leinster group in big games.

Ferris speaks up for disappointed Heaslip.

Heaslip, who previously pointed to factors like Leinster not being challenged enough in the URC, ran out of road yesterday, seemingly short of answers as to why Leinster keep on falling short.

“Yeah, that is going to be a tough one for them to take,” began Heaslip before sighing, “particularly for that group.”

A deep breath by the former Ireland international was then interrupted by his ex-international teammate Stephen Ferris who remarked “I feel like you’re repeating yourself though.”

“You’ve been saying this for the last couple of years, like.”

With Heaslip glancing to the floor, the Ulsterman proceeded by articulating Leinster’s downfall.

“Leinster just didn’t take their opportunities,” he explained, “and they should have done. They absolutely should have done.

“They will be absolutely kicking themselves that they let this go because they were the better side. It doesn’t matter. That’s cup rugby.

“We were screaming at the TV ‘Take your points and knock it over’, but that’s not the Irish way, it hasn’t been for a couple of seasons.

“It’s just really disappointing.”

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