France and England stars dominate European final showdowns

Antoine Dupont 26/3/2021
All eyes will be on Twickenham Stadium this weekend as international heavyweights collide in the finals of the Heineken Champions Cup and the European Rugby Challenge Cup.

All eyes will be on Twickenham Stadium this weekend as international heavyweights collide in the finals of the Heineken Champions Cup and the European Rugby Challenge Cup.

Leicester Tigers face Montpellier in the Challenge Cup under the Friday night lights before La Rochelle and Toulouse clash for the biggest prize in European club rugby on Saturday.

With three French teams involved in the two silverware showpieces, there will be plenty of players for Les Bleus head coach Fabien Galthie to keep an eye on over the next couple of days.

Eddie Jones will also be an interested party, with several England internationals in action for Leicester Tigers, as he looks to decide his squad for the upcoming summer fixtures.


The wealth of talent in final of Europe’s premier competition this season is enough to make the mind boggle as two stellar French outfits do battle for silverware on Saturday.

10,000 fans will be in attendance to watch perennial European heavyweights Toulouse go in search of a record-breaking fifth star, having won the competition in 1996, 2003, 2005 and 2010.

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But they will face a stern test from La Rochelle who are contesting the final for the first time, having only previously reached the quarter-final stage of the Champions Cup.

With Ireland legend Ronan O’Gara among the coaching staff, however, La Rochelle have repeatedly shown they are more than capable of beating any side on their day.

Perhaps their biggest challenge will come in the form of stopping Antoine Dupont, the 2020 Guinness Six Nations Player of the Championship and French scrum-half maverick.

A nominee for this year’s Player of the Championship as well as the EPCR European Player of the Year, Dupont has been at the heart of Toulouse’s progression through the tournament.

He is tied for top try-scorer and has beaten 20 defenders, with many – including All Black scrum-half Aaron Smith – labelling the 24-year-old the best player in the world right now.

Yet if anyone knows how to stop him it will be international teammate Grégory Alldritt, with the imposing, tireless No.8 leading the competition in carries with 59 this season.

Another player to watch will be former Saracens lock Will Skelton, who has been tearing up trees for La Rochelle throughout the campaign as he looks to add to his 2019 winners’ medal.

La Rochelle: 15. Brice Dulin, 14. Dillyn Leyds, 13. Geoffrey Doumayrou, 12. Levani Botia, 11. Raymond Rhule, 10. Ihaia West, 9. Tawera Kerr Barlow, 1. Dany Priso, 2. Pierre Bourgarit, 3. Uini Atonio, 4. Romain Sazy (c), 5. Will Skelton, 6. Grégory Alldritt, 7. Kevin Gourdon, 8. Victor Vito

Replacements: 16. Facundo Bosch, 17. Reda Wardi, 18. Arthur Joly, 19. Thomas Lavault, 20. Wiaan Liebenberg, 21. Paul Boudehent, 22. Arthur Retiere, 23. Jules Plisson

Toulouse: 15. Maxime Médard, 14. Cheslin Kolbe, 13. Juan Cruz Mallía, 12. Pita Ahki, 11. Matthis Lebel, 10. Romain Ntamack, 9. Antoine Dupont (c), 1. Cyril Baille, 2. Peato Mauvaka, 3. Charlie Faumuina, 4. Rory Arnold, 5. Richie Arnold, 6. Rynhardt Elstadt, 7. Francois Cros, 8. Jerome Kaino

Replacements: 16. Guillaume Marchand, 17. Clément Castets, 18. David Ainu’u, 19. Joe Tekori, 20. Thibaud Flament, 21. Selevasio Tolofua, 22. Baptiste Germain, 23. Thomas Ramos


Two-time European Cup winners Leicester Tigers will contest their first major final since 2013 as Steve Borthwick’s men attempt to beat 2016 Challenge Cup champions Montpellier.

It is Tigers’ first ever appearance in the Challenge Cup final but they have reached the Champions Cup showpiece on five previous occasions, with their last appearance in 2008/09.

Montpellier defeated Harlequins 26-19 in the 2015/16 showpiece to lift the Challenge Cup title for the first time but have never previously met Leicester in the competition.

The two sides have clashed in Europe’s premier competition twice before, though, with Tigers coming out on top in both pool stage matches during the 2013/14 campaign.

England international George Ford will be the man tasked with orchestrating Leicester’s attack from fly-half, with former Red Rose Richard Wigglesworth alongside him at No.9.

Ellis Genge, Tom Youngs and Dan Cole will also provide plenty of go forward in the Tigers pack although they will need to be at their best against a formidable Montpellier outfit.

Captain Guilhem Guirado, Mohamed Haouas, Paul Willemse and Yacouba Camara are all capable of spoiling Tigers’ party in what should be a fascinating forwards contest.

Meanwhile, Anthony Bouthier, Arthur Vincent and Vincent Rattez will pose threats to the Leicester defence and Handré Pollard provides the Top 14 outfit a handy option from the bench.

Tigers also have England scrum-half Ben Youngs in reserve should they need him, ensuring that there will be no shortage of talent on show in the blockbuster final match-up.

Leicester Tigers: 15. Freddie Steward, 14. Guy Porter, 13. Matias Moroni, 12. Dan Kelly, 11. Nemani Nadolo, 10. George Ford, 9. Richard Wigglesworth, 1. Ellis Genge, 2. Tom Youngs (c), 3. Dan Cole, 4. Harry Wells, 5. Calum Green, 6. Hanro Liebenberg, 7. Cyle Brink, 8. Jasper Wiese

Replacements: 16. Charlie Clare, 17. Luan de Bruin, 18. Joe Heyes, 19. Cameron Henderson, 20. Tommy Reffell, 21. Ben Youngs, 22. Zack Henry, 23. Kini Murimurivalu

Montpellier: 15. Anthony Bouthier, 14. Arthur Vincent, 13. Johan Goosen, 12. Jan Serfontein, 11. Vincent Rattez, 10. Alex Lozowski, 9. Benoit Paillaugue, 1. Enzo Forletta, 2. Guilhem Guirado (c), 3. Mohamed Haouas, 4. Florian Verhaeghe, 5. Paul Willemse, 6. Fulgence Ouedraogo, 7. Yacouba Camara, 8. Alexandre Becognee

Replacements: 16. Bismarck Du Plessis, 17. Robert Rodgers, 18. Titi Lamositele, 19. Tyler Duguid, 20. Jacques Du Plessis, 21. Cobus Reinach, 22. Handré Pollard, 23. Gabriel N’Gandebe