Rugby

The First Leinster Team To Win A European Cup Final: Where Are They Now?

The First Leinster Team To Win A European Cup Final: Where Are They Now?

In 2009, Leinster made their first appearance in a Heineken Cup Final and went on to overcome a strong Leicester Tigers test. Having beaten Munster at Croke Park in the semi-final, a Leinster side ground out a three-point victory thanks to a Jamie Heaslip try, a Brian O'Driscoll drop goal and Johnny Sexton's boot.

This weekend they travel to Bilbao in search of a fourth European crown, with numerous player surviving from that game nine years ago.

Isa Nacewa

One of three players likely to also start this time around. Nacewa is the current team captain and in his last year with the province after an extraordinary two stints in blue.

Shane Horgan

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Retired in 2012 due to a knee injury. Horgan went on to build a strong career in the media as a pundit and formed part of TV3's recent Six Nations coverage. He has done so while working as a trainee solicitor in London having studied law at Portobello College and a master's degree at Trinity College Dublin.

Brian O'Driscoll

Opened the scoring that day with a drop goal after just five minutes. Another of the several stars from this team who went on to make waves in media work. A regular on BT Sport's rugby show and Newstalk's Off the Ball. O'Driscoll also co-owns rugby app Ultimate Rugby. Per his Instagram, has endured far less success in his golf career as he did as a rugby player.

Played well today!

A post shared by Brian O'Driscoll (@brianodriscoll) on

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Gordon D'Arcy

Currently writes opinion pieces for the Irish Times and prominent in his charity work for Barretstown and GOAL.ie.

Luke Fitzgerald

Retired from rugby in 2016 due to a neck injury after 141 appearances from Leinster. Now the host of a weekly podcast for the Independent Sport called the Left Wing. Recently revealed his medal from that day, and all the other honours he won as a player, are unobserved relics stashed away in his mother's attic.

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Jonathon Sexton

In the semi-final, Leinster faced tournament favourites Munster in front of a world record crowd. In the first half they were dealt a big blow when star out-half Felipe Contepomi went down injured and was replaced by a young Johnny Sexton. At the time head coach Michael Cheika had announced Contempomi was set to join Toulon and Leinster were on the lookout for a replacement. Sexton went on to steer Leinster to their first ever Heineken Cup, including a stunning drop goal and 11 of 19 points in the final. Leinster never did sign that replacement. He will look to do it again for a third time this Saturday.

Chris Whitaker

Leinster's Australian scrum-half retired from rugby that year with a Heineken Cup medal in his back pocket. He went on to coach for Leinster and then in France with Stade Francais. Worked with US Montauban in the Pro D2. Earlier this year Whitaker left France and returned to his homeland where he linked up with another former club NSW Waratahs.

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Jamie Heaslip

The Leinster and Irish international would have expected to be playing this weekend six months ago but in February he retired from rugby after a prolonged struggle with a back injury. Recently launched the Sports Chronicle, which gives sporting figures the chance to tell their story. As a player, Heaslip was a prominent tech investor and has continued that work post his rugby career.

Shane Jennings

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Was handed a twelve-week ban during the opening week of Heineken Cup games but recovered to start the final. Partakes in media work, recently as a pundit for TV3's Six Nations team. Has spoken with admirable honesty about his transition after professional rugby and now works at the Sandyford Industrial estate.

Rocky Elsom

Leinster's other Aussie that day. Elsom left the club that year but his contribution was such that he is still regarded as one of the greatest non-Irish players to play for any of the provinces. An extraordinary post-rugby career included a takeover of RCNM Racing Club Narbonne Mediterranean. His business model attracted interest from the Qatar Investment Fund. Then led a consortium that moved towards purchasing the Melbourne Reds.

Malcolm O'Kelly

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Retired a year later as Ireland's most capped second row.  Went on to a career as a civil engineer and a sales role as an orthopaedic specialist.

Leo Cullen 

From pack leader to head coach. Cullen has brought the attention to detail he was famed for as a player into his coaching career and now looks to win his first Champions Cup as a coach this week.

Stan Wright

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The Cook Islands man won an award for the 'Unsung hero' that season and won another Heineken Cup in 2011 before leaving for Stade Français. A cult hero with Leinster fans, Wright was nicknamed 'the cookie monster' due to his place of birth. Was hired as a coach of the under 20's Cook Islands Rugby team. Progressed to the senior side but had his contract terminated last year after alleged "misleading and disrespectful comments" about the organisation and its executives.

Bernard Jackman

Having earned a degree in business studies and Japanese, Jackman never got the chance to put it to full use as his rugby career took off and progressed to coaching afterwards. The current head coach with the Dragons in the Pro14 having worked with FC Grenoble in the past.

Cian Healy

It was doubtful twelves months ago whether Healy would even feature at this point but a spectacular return to form has seen him re-establish himself for province and country.

 

Maurice Brosnan

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