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.



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

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Keith Fraser says we should give Isis sympathises free flights to join Isis (AFP)
Life and Style
A picture taken on February 11, 2014 at people walking at sunrise on the Trocadero Esplanade, also known as the Parvis des droits de l'homme (Parvis of Human Rights), in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor