Champions Cup Rugby – semi-finals review

Following the Champions Cup semi-finals weekend, please CLICK HERE for a comprehensive review of the matches and in-depth tournament statistics, as well as notes below.Semi-final notes

• Leinster Rugby are through to a fourth European Cup final and the three-time winners will be looking to preserve an unbeaten record in the deciding match at the San Mames Stadium in Bilbao on 12 May.

• With more than 950,000 fans already through the Champions Cup turnstiles this season, the total tournament attendance will pass the 1 million mark in Bilbao next month.

• Teddy Thomas is the fourth player to score two tries in a European Cup semi-final. The Racing 92 wing has emulated the feat of Christophe Juillet (Stade Français Paris v Ulster in 1999), Paul Sackey (Wasps v Northampton Saints in 2007) and Chris Ashton (Saracens v ASM Clermont Auvergne in 2014).

• Four Leinster players – Cian Healy, Rob Kearney, Johnny Sexton and Devin Toner – could each collect a fourth winner’s medal in Bilbao. They would join the two four-timers to date – Cedric Heymans (one with Brive and three with Toulouse) and Frederic Michalak (two with Toulouse and two with RC Toulon).

• Racing have qualified for a second final in three years. They were defeated by Saracens in the 2016 decider in Lyon.

• With eight consecutive wins, Leinster are on course to equal Saracens’ 2015/16 record of nine victories in a Champions Cup winning season.

• Racing’s Wenceslas Lauret made a match high of 20 tackles in the win over Munster Rugby in Bordeaux.

• Either Leinster Head Coach Leo Cullen or Racing’s joint-Head Coach, Laurent Travers, will become the first man to win the European Cup as both player and coach next month. Cullen famously led Leinster to all three of their tournament victories while Travers was part of the all-conquering Brive side in 1997.

• Johnny Sexton, who scored 18 points in Leinster’s comprehensive win over the Scarlets at the Aviva Stadium, passed 600 tournament points during the match. Sexton is now on 605 points, sixth on the all-time list.

• Simon Zebo, who scored Munster’s first try at Stade Chaban-Delmas, has equalled the late Anthony Foley’s club record of 23 in the European Cup.

• Leinster’s 38 points against the Scarlets was the second-highest total by a club in a tournament semi-final. Saracens hold the record with their 46 points against ASM Clermont Auvergne at Twickenham in 2014.

• Munster’s second-half defiance was not enough in Bordeaux and the 2006 and ’08 champions have now lost their last six semi-finals matches.

• James Ryan, Leinster’s emerging second row, made a match-high 16 carries as well as 13/13 tackles against the Scarlets.


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