Stats review of the weekend: Ryan stars in Leinster Champions Cup triumph

There were plenty of NatWest 6 Nations stars on show in Bilbao as the European rugby season came to an emphatic conclusion.

There were plenty of NatWest 6 Nations stars on show in Bilbao as the European rugby season came to an emphatic conclusion.

Ireland’s James Ryan shone for Leinster as they lifted the Champions Cup for a record-equalling fourth time with a 15-12 win over French outfit Racing 92.

Meanwhile Wales’ Gareth Anscombe late penalty led Cardiff Blues to Challenge Cup glory, beating Gloucester 31-30 in a dramatic finale on Friday night.

We have looked at the weekend’s stats to find the finals’ top performers.

Defensive heroics from Irish trio

In wet conditions and a kicking-laden final, three Irish forwards led the tackling stats for Leinster as they edged to victory against Racing 92.

Ryan, who is yet to lose a match as a professional rugby player, was man of the match in Bilbao, making 12 tackles in a first-class performance.

His compatriots pipped him in the tackling stakes, however, with fellow lock Devin Toner making 14 tackles, and Dan Leavy way out in front with 20.

Despite ending up on the losing side, there were top tackling performances from France internationals Wenceslas Lauret, Bernard Le Roux and Camille Chat, but Leavy topped the stats list.

Most tackles made by NatWest 6 Nations players Dan Leavy (Leinster & Ireland) – 20 Wenceslas Lauret (Racing 92 & France) – 19 Bernard Le Roux (Racing 92 & France) – 18 Camille Chat (Racing 92 & France) – 16 Ellis Jenkins (Cardiff Blues & Wales) – 15

Kearney on song for Leinster

Anscombe may have grabbed the headlines for his match-winning kick against Gloucester, but it was another full-back who topped the list for the most metres gained on the weekend, Ireland’s Rob Kearney.

The Leinster 15 made 81 metres, head and shoulders above anyone else and showed a calm head under the high ball, despite the rain making the ball difficult to handle.

Italian back row forward Jake Polledri was another NatWest 6 Nations star to put in an excellent ball-carrying performance, but he ended up on the wrong side of an agonising defeat for Gloucester.

Most metres gained by NatWest 6 Nations players Rob Kearney (Leinster & Ireland) – 81 Jake Polledri (Gloucester & Italy) – 47 Jordan Larmour (Leinster & Ireland) – 40 Dan Leavy (Leinster & Ireland) – 34  Gareth Anscombe (Cardiff Blues & Wales) – 19

Leinster players enjoy the Grand Slam – Champions Cup double

Leinster’s Champions Cup-winning squad had a wealth of international experience and could rely on 13 players who won the NatWest 6 Nations Grand Slam earlier in the season.

Jonathan Sexton, Cian Healy and Rob Kearney all managed to win both the Grand Slam and the Champions Cup in the same calendar year, when Ireland last won all five NatWest 6 Nations matches in 2009.

Meanwhile England’s Grand Slam in 2016 had a large contingent of Saracens players, with eight players achieving the Grand Slam – Champions Cup double.

And back in 2010, 11 Toulouse players featured for France as they won the Grand Slam.

Players to win the Grand Slam and the Champions Cup in the same year

Ireland & Leinster, 2018: Joey Carberry, Jack Conan, Sean Cronin, Tadhg Furlong, Cian Healy, Rob Kearney, Jordan Larmour, Dan Leavy, Jack McGrath, Garry Ringrose, James Ryan, Johnny Sexton, Devin Toner

England & Saracens, 2016: Chris Ashton, Owen Farrell, Jamie George, Alex Goode, Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Billy Vunipola, Mako Vunipola

France & Toulouse, 2010: Vincent Clerc, Thierry Dusautoir, Jean-Baptiste Elissalde, Yannick Jauzion, Yoann Maestri, Romain Millo-Chluski, Frederic Michalak, Louis Picamoles, Clement Poitrenaud, Jean-Baptiste Poux, William Servat

Ireland & Leinster, 2009: Gordon D’Arcy, Girvan Dempsey, Luke Fitzgerald, Cian Healy, Jamie Heaslip, Shane Horgan, Bernard Jackman, Shane Jennings, Rob Kearney, Brian O’Driscoll, Malcolm O’Kelly, Johnny Sexton   Wales & Toulouse, 2005: Gareth Thomas   France & Brive, 1997: Philippe Carbonneau, Christophe Lamaison, Alain Penaud, David Venditti