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Leinster boss Leo Cullen on ‘devastating’ loss to Toulouse

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen has said his side are ‘devastated’ following their Champions Cup final defeat to Toulouse.

The URC side dominated much of the possession, and arguably had the better chances, however they fell to a 31-22 defeat to the French champions after extra-time.

Speaking to the media after the game, Cullen said “Everyone’s devastated in there. We poured a hell of a lot into it, but it’s two very good squads going at it at an amazing stadium and it came down to the finest margins.”

He added: “There’s a drop-goal at the end and it goes a metre to the right, we’re having a very different conversation here aren’t we? That’s the nature of sport at the top end.”

Leinster created plenty of chances to score, and could easily have put the game to bed if not for Toulouse’s defence. Jack Willis made an astonishing 30 tackles, and half-backs Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack also chipped in with six turnovers between them.

Commenting on Toulouse’s defence, Cullen said: “I thought we had some really positive phases; but Toulouse scrambled well. They came up with big moments defensively at different stages, and that was probably the difference. I thought the lads were immense out there today, we just kept firing shots at Toulouse all the way through it, but we just didn’t get the rewards.”

Prior to today’s meeting, Leinster had previously had the better of Toulouse; beating them in the previous two semi-finals.

Leo Cullen on ‘building narrative’ of losing finals

Leinster celebrate a try-Credit: IMAGO

Credit: IMAGO

Today’s defeat to Toulouse is Leinster’s third Champions Cup final loss in a row, and is also their fourth since 2018.

Whilst it might be forming somewhat of a pattern, Cullen was quick to highlight this was not the case.

“We’ve been on the losing side on a few occasions now. You get this narrative that builds off the back of that, and people start adding all the different bits together. When you break down this specific game, there were some tight calls at different stages, and not enough of them went our way.”

Leinster have also struggled to win domestic titles too. Their last league title came in 2020, prior to the URC era, and have also lost in the semi-final stages the past two seasons.

Despite their recent lack of silverware, Cullen highlighted there is still belief they can end their drought at some point soon.

“We were bashing away in this competition for a long time, where we didn’t get to finals. It’s not like there’s a lack of belief that we can do it, it’s just making sure that we stick at it.”

Leinster now turn their full attention onto their URC campaign this season, where they sit third heading into the final round.