Crucial stats ahead of the Champions Cup Final
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Saturday's Champions Cup Final promises to be a mouthwatering affair, between two giants of Europe.
Even for the neutrals, this promises to be quite the spectacle, so here’s everything you need to know ahead of one of the biggest events in the rugby calendar.
• This will be the third meeting between the clubs with Leinster winning both pool stage encounters in 2010/11, each by a margin of more than 15 points.
• Leinster will equal Toulouse’s record of four European Cup titles if they are victorious in Bilbao.
• With eight wins to date, Leinster could emulate Saracens’ record of nine in a Champions Cup-winning season.
• Johnny Sexton played eight times for Racing 92 in the European Cup between 2013 and 2015 scoring 56 points.
• Cian Healy, Johnny Sexton, Isa Nacewa and Devin Toner were all in Leinster’s match day squads in their three Champions Cup finals to date, while Head Coach Leo Cullen also started as captain in each of those victories.
• Leone Nakarawa has made 20 offloads this season, eight more than any other player, and 14 more than any other player who could feature in the final. He is also the only player from either of these clubs to have played the maximum 640 minutes this season.
• Johnny Sexton (21/24) has an 88% goalkicking success rate in the Champions Cup this season, the same as Racing’s injured place kicker Maxime Machenaud (29/33). Sexton has succeeded with 11/11 kicks in the knockout stage so far, landing seven conversions and four penalties.
• Luke McGrath has made six try assists in the Champions Cup this season, more than any other player.
• If Racing are successful on Saturday week, they will become the fourth French club to win the European club game’s blue-riband tournament – Toulouse (1996, 2003, 2005, 2010), RC Toulon (2013, 2014, 2015) and Brive (1997).
• The Racing 92 trio of Dan Carter (Crusaders 2002, 2005, 2006, 2008), Joe Rokocoko (Blues 2003) and Ben Tameifuna (Chiefs 2012, 2013), as well as Leinster’s Jamison Gibson-Park (Hurricanes 2016), are bidding to complete the double of Champions Cup and Super Rugby titles.
• Johnny Sexton’s 28 points against Northampton Saints in 2011 is the second-highest individual total in the 22 finals to date. Stade Francais Paris’ Diego Dominguez kicked 30 points against Leicester Tigers in 2011, but still ended up on the losing side.
• Racing’s Wenceslas Lauret, who made a match-high 20 tackles in the semi-final win over Munster, is hoping for third-time lucky in Bilbao. The in-form back row lost in the final with Biarritz Olympique in 2010 and lost again with Racing in Lyon two years ago.
• Four Leinster players – Cian Healy, Isa Nacewa, Johnny Sexton and Devin Toner – could equal the record of four European Cup winners’ medals held jointly by Cedric Heymans (Toulouse) and Frederic Michalak (Toulouse and RC Toulon).
• The final will be Dan Carter’s last European club match. The legendary New Zealander, who has won every major trophy in the game except the Champions Cup, started against Saracens in the 2016 decider in Lyon before being replaced due to injury.
• Leinster’s Leo Cullen. and Racing 92’s Laurent Travers are bidding to become the first men to win the tournament as both player and coach.
• With more than 950,000 fans already through the Champions Cup turnstiles this season, the total tournament attendance for 2017/18 will pass the 1 million mark in Bilbao.
• Match referee, Wayne Barnes, will be in charge of his second European Cup final and his 70th tournament fixture.
• If selected for the final, Sean Cronin will make his 50th tournament appearance in Bilbao, while Yannick Nyanga with 77 appearances (Racing 17, Toulouse 58, Béziers 2) and Rob Kearney with 72 will be the most experienced European Cup players in the line-ups.
• The final will be Racing’s 55th European Cup match.
• Spain will become the sixth country to host a European Cup final after England, France, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
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