Stade Francais v Leinster: Amlin Challenge Cup final preview - Club Rugby - Rugby Union - The Independent

Stade Francais v Leinster: Amlin Challenge Cup final preview

A look ahead to tonight's match

After signing a one-year contract extension with Leinster and the Irish Rugby Football Union, Brian O’Driscoll was ruled out of the Amlin Challenge Cup final against Stade Francais with a back spasm that he picked up in the reigning Heineken Cup champions clash with Glasgow last week.

O'Driscoll left the pitch after suffering the injury in the 17-15 RaboDirect Pro12 semi-final win, and the injury leaves a question over his fitness as he prepares to head off with the British and Irish Lions to tour Australia. However, his teammates and fellow Lions Cian Healy, Sean O'Brien, Jamie Heaslip, Jonathan Sexton and Rob Kearney will have their eyes focused fully on tonight's final at the Royal Dublin Society ground.

Despite the final being played at a pre-arranged venue, Leinster will have the home advantage in the precursor to Saturday's Heineken Cup final, and having been knocked out at the group stages in a very tough group that contained Clermont Auvergne, Leinster will want to pick up more European silverware after back-to-back Heineken Cups. They still have the chance to finish with the Pro12 title as they take on Ulster next weekend, in what could be yet another double-winning season for Joe Schmidt before he leaves his post and takes up the role as Ireland's head coach.

Stade Francais are no pushovers though, and they will be gunning for the win after experiencing the highs and lows that European rugby has to offer. They have reached the Amlin Challenge Cup final before, losing narrowly to Harlequins two years ago in a 19-18 defeat. They have also reached the Heineken Cup final twice before, but again lost out to Toulouse in 2005 but six points and Leicester Tigers in 2001 by just four points.

History has seen them come out on the wrong side of European finals, and it is a streak they will want to end by claiming their first European trophy. In captain Sergio Parisse, they have a No. 8 widely regarded as one of the best in his position in the world. Having led his Italian national side to victory over France and Ireland in this year's RBS Six Nations, Parisse played a heavy role throughout the tournament and has converted that form with his performances for Stade being equally as impressive.

With Stade finishing in tenth position in the Top 14, they will be relying on victory tonight as their only way of qualification for next season's Heineken Cup, but Leinster will start as heavy favourites in front of a partisan Irish crowd. Nevertheless, Stade Francais shouldn't be ruled out completely, and with Leinster's talismanic O'Driscoll missing from the squad, Stade may just feel that their time to claim silverware is now.

 

Line-ups:

Leinster: Rob Kearney; Andrew Conway, Fergus McFadden, Ian Madigan, Isa Nacewa; Jonathan Sexton, Isaac Boss; Jack McGrath, Sean Cronin, Mike Ross; Quinn Roux, Devin Toner; Rhys Ruddock, Sean O'Brien, Jamie Heaslip.

Replacements: Richardt Strauss, Cian Healy, Jamie Hagan, Leo Cullen, Shane Jennings, John Cooney, Andrew Goodman, Dave Kearney.

 

Stade Francais: Jerome Porical; Jeremy Sinzelle, Geoffrey Doumayrou, Paul Williams, Hugo Bonneval; Jules Plisson, Julien Dupuy; Aled de Malmanche, Laurent Sempere, Rabah Slimani; Scott LaValla, Gerhard Mostert; David Lyons, Pierre Rabadan, Sergio Parisse.

Replacements: Remy Bonfils, Stanley Wright, Jeremy Becasseau, Anton van Zyl, Lei Tomiki, Waisea Nayacalevu Vuidravuwalu, Julien Arias, Paul Warwick.

 

TV: Coverage is Live tonight on Sky Sports 2 at 8pm

News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
News
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
SCIENCE
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition attracted 562,000 visitors to the Tate Modern from April to September
art
Life and Style
Models walk the runway at the Tom Ford show during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015
fashionLondon Fashion Week 2014
News
Kenny G
news
News
peopleThe black actress has claimed police mistook her for a prostitute when she kissed her white husband
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week