La Rochelle receive epic send off from fans ahead of Champions Cup final
If anyone was wondering which team might have the best fans in Europe, La Rochelle’s made a fairly compelling case today as they saw their players off as they travel to Dublin ahead of the Heineken Champions Cup final.
If the scenes at the port after La Rochelle won the competition last year were not enough to convince you, maybe the sight of fans, flags and flares at the airport might be enough to suggest these are the most passionate fans maybe anywhere in rugby.
The players embarked today for their third Champions Cup final in a row and in pursuit of their second consecutive title against last year’s runners-up Leinster. The picture is slightly different this year though, as the final is being effectively played at Leinster’s home ground, the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, as opposed to the Stade Velodrome last year in Marseille.
That only means the challenge is even greater for La Rochelle this year. Then again, Ronan O’Gara’s side have had Leinster’s number in recent years, not only beating them in the final last year, but beating them in the semi-finals the year before. Leinster and Ireland scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park spoke this week about the pain of defeat at the hands of La Rochelle.
“It’s one of those things that’s mentioned all the time with great teams over the years, the way they use defeats and having it spur you on for the next year,” he said.
“There’s probably no doubt that it has for us in getting to this point.
“When you work with a collective group to try and get somewhere and you fall at the last hurdle, it’s hard, especially when it’s like that, a few minutes from the end of the game.
“It’s tough moments in the dressing room and on the pitch afterwards.
“You live for those moments where you get to lift trophies and you enjoy those moments in the dressing room with your brothers.
“But the sombre feelings after a defeat stick with you as well.”
Take a look at La Rochelle’s fans:
— Stade Rochelais (@staderochelais) May 18, 2023