• Home
  • /
  • Rugby
  • /
  • Heaslip Questions Leinster's Big Game Mentality After La Rochelle Defeat

Heaslip Questions Leinster's Big Game Mentality After La Rochelle Defeat

Heaslip Questions Leinster's Big Game Mentality After La Rochelle Defeat
Eoin Harrington
By Eoin Harrington
Share this article

For the second year in a row, Leinster are left pondering how they are not European champions, after a dramatic second-half comeback from La Rochelle in the Champions Cup final.

It was set up perfectly for Leinster. After knockout wins over Ulster, Leicester, and Toulouse saw them through to the final, they faced a showdown against La Rochelle on home soil at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

After last year's final saw Leinster defeated by a last minute La Rochelle try, there was a taste for revenge in the air - but, ultimately, it ended up being a case of history repeating itself.

Irish coach Ronan O'Gara guided La Rochelle to their second successive title, and Leinster are now without a trophy since the 2021 United Rugby Championship.

Leinster La Rochelle

20 May 2023; Jack Conan of Leinster and Jonathan Sexton react during the Heineken Champions Cup Final match between Leinster and La Rochelle at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

It is now five years since they came out on top in the Champions Cup, with three final losses in the seasons since that 2018 triumph.


RTÉ dissected Saturday's Champions Cup final, with ex-Leinster captain Jamie Heaslip questioning the Irish side's mentality in big games, and whether they had been hampered by the lack of tests they experience on a regular basis.

Leinster 26-27 La Rochelle: Jamie Heaslip questions Leinster's ability in "pressure cooker" moments

Leinster took a sensational 17 point lead in the early stages of Saturday's crunch clash at Lansdowne Road, but the physicality and endurance of La Rochelle won out in the second-half, with Leinster's fate sealed in a chaotic final ten minutes.

It is the third time in five years that Leinster have lost the Champions Cup final and, speaking on RTÉ after the game, Jamie Heaslip questioned how this side handle pressure:


I said that they couldn't deal with that consistent pressure a lot. It makes me think, are they getting enough exposure to teams playing at that level, under that kind of pressure, those kind of pressure cooker environment moments?

Over the last couple of years, any time when they had those pressure cooker moments, it hasn't fallen their way.

You can see the disappointment - unfortunately, there's gotta be winners and losers. It's going to be hard for him to keep that same group motivated when they've been trophyless now for two years. They only have one in the last ten years when it comes to Europe - that's gonna be hard, to keep that belief in the way he [Leo Cullen] wants to play.

He's [Cullen] right, it is so close. But, unfortunately, nobody remembers how many runner-up finals you played in.

There are uncomfortable conversations to be had. This is the season over, now.

The loss to La Rochelle followed disappointment against Munster in last weekend's URC semi-final, leaving Leinster trophyless for a second successive season.


In an honest post-match interview, tighthead prop Tadhg Furlong said that Leinster would have to look in the mirror after a third straight final loss.

It is a crushing end to what was shaping up to be a brilliant season for Leinster, and will leave a bitter taste in the mouth of head coach Leo Cullen as his right-hand man Stuart Lancaster exits stage left.

SEE ALSO: Ronan O'Gara Quick To Remind RTE Panel That Dublin Is Not His Home

ronan o'gara la rochelle leinster cork rte champions cup

Join The Monday Club Have a tip or something brilliant you wanted to share on? We're looking for loyal Balls readers free-to-join members club where top tipsters can win prizes and Balls merchandise

Processing your request...

You are now subscribed!

Share this article

Copyright © 2024. All rights reserved. Developed by Square1 and powered by PublisherPlus.com