The showpiece event of club rugby in the northern hemisphere takes place in France this weekend when Leinster meets La Rochelle in the European Champions Cup Final, so let’s take a look at the two teams and find ourselves some free rugby picks.
- What; 2022 European Champions Cup
- Where; Stade Vélodrome, Marseille, France
- When; Saturday, May 28th, 2022
- Kick-off; 12.45 pm ET
Even though it’s an Irish team against a French team in the final, the match has the feel of an Irish derby about it. This is because the French team, La Rochelle is coached by legendary former Irish Fly-Half Ronan O’Gara.
And it gets better. O’Gara’s former Irish provincial side, which he graced from 1997 until he retired in 2013, is Munster, one of Leinster’s fiercest rivals. So I don’t think there is a side he would want to defeat more in a final, than his fellow Irishmen at Leinster.
The final is also a rematch of last year’s semi-final, a match won by La Rochelle by 32 points to 23.
Leo Cullen’s Leinster team is on record saying that result hurt. And there is a feeling that revenge is in the air just over 12 months on.
|2022 European Champions Cup Winner Betting|
Leinster @ -525
Leinster is the most successful rugby club in Ireland and is also attempting to become the joint-most successful rugby club in the history of the European Champions Cup.
They play in the United Rugby Championship (URC), which is a league involving the four Irish province teams, along with teams from Italy, Scotland, Wales, and now South Africa.
To give you an idea of just how dominant Leinster are in the URC, they’ve won it eight times in total (it’s only been in existence for 21 years). They are the current defending champions, having won it for the last four seasons.
And in this year’s championship, they’re also in a strong position to make it five years running.
In the Champions Cup, the Irish team last lifted the trophy in 2018, which was their fourth win.
Only Toulouse with five wins has tasted European glory more often. This is the same Toulouse side that won this cup last season but was blasted 40 points to 17 by Leinster in the semi-finals on May the 14th.
FULL TIME | 🔵 40-17 🔴
— Off The Ball (@offtheball) May 14, 2022
As you can see, Leinster is a winning machine.
The province is coached by former Leinster playing hero, Leo Cullen. Cullen has been involved in all four of Leinster’s four Champions Cup to date. He played in the first three, and was the coach for the province’s last win, back in 2018. The 2018 win over Racing 92 saw Cullen become the first person to win the cup as both a player and a coach.
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La Rochelle +340
The French side is huge outsiders, but I think that’s a touch unfair.
They got to the final last year, and as you may have seen, defeated Leinster en route.
Last year’s defeat to Toulouse would have hurt. It will also give the French team an extra incentive to right that wrong.
Coach Ronan O’Gara may not have coached a team to Champions Cup success, but he has won as a player.
Representing Munster, O’Gara won two European Champions Cup titles as a player. So he knows what it takes to win this cup.
The Road To The Final
Leinster qualified out of Pool A with relative ease, winning three from four of their matches. In all honesty, such was the format in the Pool system used this year, it was almost harder not to make it through to the Round of 16.
In the Round of 16, they faced Irish provincial rivals Connacht, and they mauled them 82-41 on aggregate across the two legs. Then in their quarter-final, Leinster found themselves away at Welford Road to Leicester Tigers of England. Cullen’s team were twenty points to zero up at half-time.
They did have to withstand a second-half fight back, but they ultimately came through that by 23 points to 14.
Onto the semi-final, and the Irish champions were simply too strong for the defending champions. They just blew Toulouse away at the Aviva Stadium. In truth, the French team was never really even in the game.
As for La Rochelle, they finished third in Pool A, one place above Leinster.
In the knockout stages, they have only faced fellow French opposition. In the Round of 16, they defeated Bordeaux 62-36 across two legs.
Then in the quarter-finals, O’Gara’s side defeated Montpellier by 31 points to 19.
In the big match against Toulouse, Rochelle entered the semi-final as the underdogs. It certainly didn’t deter them though, as they went on to beat the defending champions 20-13.
2021/22 European Champions Cup Picks
The best rugby betting sites all have this match heavily stacked in Leinster’s favor.
The Irish champions are -525 on the Moneyline, and on the Handicap Spread, they are giving La Rochelle a +11.5 points start.
It’s really hard to make a case for the French side, and I can only see Leinster winning their fifth European Champions Cup.
And in the process, became the joint-most successful side in the history of the competition.