22 players who will play the semi-final between Leinster and Toulouse this Saturday, May 14 at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin (4 p.m.) were already present during the clash between the XV of France and the XV of Clover during the last Tournament of the Sixth Nations.
“We are going to touch the summit, the sublime.” This declaration, signed Fabien Galthié, the coach of the Blues this winter on the sidelines of France – Ireland, could be brought up to date this week before the semi-final between the two behemoths of European rugby. Because on Saturday in Dublin, Stade Toulousain, the most sacred club in history (5), will not find less than… 13 Leinster players (4 titles) having already crossed paths with the Blues in the jersey of the XV of France in February. That is more than half of the Irish team gathered in a single province. And again, Jonathan Sexton, the hub, was not there on the lawn of the Stade de France…
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This illustrates a little more the magnitude of the challenge that awaits the defending champion at Aviva Stadium, even if he will obviously not be outdone in terms of arguments since he has ten “Grand Slams” in his ranks. . Nine were also present on the match sheet in Saint-Denis (not Matthis Lebel), where Antoine Dupont and Cyril Baille had scored the two victorious Tricolores tries that day (30-24), carried by the boot of the Perpignan and future Toulousain Melvyn Jaminet.
Thick cast in first and third line!
The cast therefore promises some serious duels in all lines on the Dublin lawn where Cyril Baille, Julien Marchand and Peato Mauvaka will find, for example, five of Ireland’s six front line players: left-hander Andrew Porter and hooker Ronan Kelleher and their understudy Cian Healy and Dan Sheehan, as well as right-hander Tadhg Furlong. Rather used as a third line currently, and replacing with the Blues, Thibaud Flament had meanwhile crossed James Ryan, the alignment control tower, for almost half an hour. As for the third line, Anthony Jelonch and François Cros will find themselves facing the infernal triplet formed by Calean Doris, Jack Conan and Josh van der Flier. Damn thick!
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The opposition of the hinges should also be worth the detour between Luke McGrath and Jonathan Sexton on the Irish side, and the tandem Antoine Dupont – Romain Ntamack on the “Red and Black” side. Brilliant in his management of the debates in the quarter-finals as well as by his insurance under the torrent of candles that he had to brave, Thomas Ramos, who had not entered the game on the second day of the Tournament, will deliver for his starts a duel from a distance with the last rampart of XV du Clover Hugo Keenan.
Finally, in the middle of the field, it will be necessary to manage to contain the complementary pair of center formed by the “buffalo” Robbie Henshaw and the twirling Garry Ringrose. No really, no one should be bored.
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