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Champions Cup Final: Ferris Reflects On Ulster's 2012 Heartbreak

Champions Cup Final: Ferris Reflects On Ulster's 2012 Heartbreak
By Luke Delaney

La Rochelle face Leinster in the Champions Cup final this weekend with the game kicking off at 4:45pm. It will undoubtedly be a highly competitive game and this La Rochelle team under the guidance of Ronan O'Gara knocked Leinster out of the competition in the semifinal last year.

Since Leinster's first European triumph back in 2009, the province have won six Pro14 titles, one Challenge Cup and a further three Champions Cup titles, establishing themselves as one of the northern hemisphere's most superior clubs.

In 2012, Leinster won their third Champions Cup final in four years after beating Ulster 42-14 at Twickenham.

Both sides fielded star studded starting XVs with Ulster having the likes of world cup winners John Afoa, Ruan Pienaar, Johann Muller and Pedrie Wannenberg at their diposal.

Leinster also had a team full of world class stars with the likes of Brian O'Driscoll, Brad Thorn, Sean O'Brien and Johnny Sexton all starting that day.

Champions Cup final : Ulster's journey to Twickenham

Ulster overcame the Munster and Edinburgh in previous rounds of the tournament before facing Leinster in the Champions Cup final.

Stephen Ferris started that game for his province and speaking on The Build Up in association with Ladbrokes, the former Ireland flanker spoke about his memory of Ulster's run to the Champions Cup final.

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"Obviously, you know, the history of Thomond Park not too many teams if any went there in a quarterfinal and got a victory and we did and our big game players turned up. John Afoa,World Cup winner. Johann Muller, World Cup winner. Ruan Pienaar, World Cup winner. Myself, played really well that day. You know Rory Best played well, Craig Gilroy burst onto the scene you know the Ulster winger, he’s still playing at the moment. Ian Humphreys had a really good game at out half for us and big players like Andrew Trimble and we left that, we were like you know, we’re on a massive high."

Ulster then defeated Edinburgh 22-19 in the semifinal at the Aviva and Ferris spoke about the celebrations after the win.

"A couple of weeks later we went to the Aviva stadium and played Edinburgh. You know I think if we played Edinburgh 100 times , we’d probably win 99 of them with that team.

"We didn’t play particularly well, it actually got quite edgy towards the last 10 or 15 minutes of the game because it was only a one score game in the end. And you know we walked around the pitch with Ulster flags above our head as if we had actually won something or accomplished something. But we had accomplished absolutely nothing, we had just got to a European final that was it. There was no silverware."

28 April 2012; Ulster head coach Brian McLoughlin with players Rory Best, left, and Stephen Ferris after the game. Heineken Cup Semi-Final, Ulster v Edinburgh, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

Champions Cup final: Leinster's view on Ulster premature celebrations

The 35-time capped Ireland international also described that event as a turning point for Leinster ahead of the final. Ferris recalls some of the Leinster players using his side's celebrations as an extra incentive to win the Champions Cup final.

"Like I remember a few the Leinster lads, 4 or 5 years on from that saying they watched that semifinal and they watched like us walking around the pitch as if we had actually achieved something. And they were like “look at these boys, they think that just because they’ve got to a final that they deserve to win the cup.” And that’s the way they kind of looked at it and they used that, our body language and the way we reacted after that semifinal win over Edinburgh as a bit of fuel for their fire in the final and by god it did fuel their fire."

Leinster ended up cruising to another European title after beating Ulster in the Champions Cup final. Ferris believes his side got "too giddy" and "lost a little bit of focus" in the build up to the final.

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"Were we too confident? We were confident all right, you’re the second best team in the tournament you know at the end of it really you’re going to have confidence.But yeah I think we just lost a little bit of focus and yeah we paid a very heavy price for it, especially on the scoreboard and that’s what hurt most "

You can listen to the full interview with Stephen Ferris here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EUbtmNw3dXs

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Stephen Ferris is backing Leinster to win their fifth Champions Cup title this weekend but reckons it will be a much tighter affair than the bookies are expecting.

The game kicks off at 4:45pm with coverage starting on BT Sport 2 from 2:30pm.

See Also: Analysis: What Leinster Need To Get Right In Order To Beat O'Gara's La Rochelle

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