La Rochelle lifted their first ever European Champions Cup after Arthur Retiere's late try stole a dramatic 24-21 win over Leinster at Stade Velodrome.

Despite scoring the first try in Marseille through Raymond Rhule, La Rochelle trailed for much of the match as Jonny Sexton's boot dominated for Leinster on Saturday.

He had 18 points before Pierre Bourgarit powered over for La Rochelle to tee up a nervy finish as last year's runners-up piled on the pressure.

The French side's indiscipline almost put the game beyond them, with Thomas Lavault sent to the sin bin and Ross Byrne – on for the injured Sexton with 16 minutes remaining – kicking another three points, but Retiere's last-gasp response swung the final in their favour.

Leinster, chasing a record-equalling fifth title, ultimately paid for their failure to score a try – not that it appeared to matter as Sexton converted two straightforward penalties to edge them ahead.

Rhule then bundled over in the left corner after Dillyn Leyds' offload, before another Sexton penalty put Leinster back on top, and he profited again before the break when La Rochelle were punished for more sloppiness.

West reduced the arrears with three points after the interval, but Sexton responded with a further two penalties to take Leinster out of reach of a converted La Rochelle try.

That lead was cut after 61 minutes, however, as Bourgarit crossed following a maul and West's conversion made it a one-point game.

Sexton limped off in the aftermath of that try, but La Rochelle's momentum appeared to be halted when Lavault was yellow-carded for tripping Jamison Gibson-Park, allowing replacement Byrne to dispatch the subsequent kick.

And yet there was still time, with a prolonged period of La Rochelle pressure ending in Retiere breaking through to claim Champions Cup glory for his side at the second time of asking.

La Rochelle will face Leinster in the European Champions Cup final after beating Racing 92 20-13 in an almighty battle at Stade Bollaert-Delelis.

A year after losing to Toulouse in the final, La Rochelle will have another chance to be crowned European champions for the first time at Stade Velodrome on May 28 after fighting back to defeat their Top 14 rivals on a hot Sunday in Lens.

A second-half penalty try, which resulted in Racing being reduced to 13 men for around eight minutes, was a key moment in the semi-final as it put La Rochelle in front for the first time.

Ronan O'Gara's side edged out the Ireland legend's former employers to set up a repeat of last year's semi-final in Marseille, Ihaia West making amends for an off day with the boot by sealing it with a try right at the end.

Nolann Le Garrec put Racing in front with an early penalty and West failed to make it 3-3 when he missed a straightforward chance from the tee.

Virimi Vakatawa extended the Paris club's lead with a sharp sidestep to squeeze beyond two defenders and dot down for an opening try, which Le Garrec converted after 25 minutes.

La Rochelle applied sustain pressure and although Raymond Rhule had a try ruled out as the ball was not clearly out of a ruck when he scooped it up, West's penalty got them on the board and Gregory Alldritt powered his way over on the stroke of half-time.

West was unable to add the extras and the La Rochelle fly-half was off target with another penalty early in the second half before the ice cool Le Garrec booted Racing into a 13-8 lead.

Ill-disciplined Racing were rocked when Camille Chat and Cedate Gomes Sa were sent to the sin bin in quick succession, the second offence resulting in a penalty try that put last year's runners-up 15-13 up with just under half an hour go.

A disjointed and sloppy La Rochelle side failed to increase their advantage while Racing were two men down, during which time Le Garrec missed from the tee twice.

Pierre Popelin stepped up to miss a penalty at the other end, but O'Gara's men ended Racing's hopes of winning the Champions Cup for the first time, with West diving over to seal it.

James Lowe scored a try in each half as magnificent Leinster reached the European Champions Cup final with a 40-17 defeat of holders Toulouse at a raucous Aviva Stadium.

Leinster will face La Rochelle or Racing 92 at the Stade Velodrome on May 28 after a hugely impressive win over the Top 14 side in Dublin on Saturday.

Johnny Sexton pulled the strings and scored 15 points in an influential display as Leo Cullen's side, who scored four tries, kept themselves in the hunt to match Toulouse's record tally of being crowned European champions for a fifth time in Marseille. 

Fly-half Sexton's penalty put Leinster in front, but Antoine Dupont raced from deep in his own half to go under the posts to punish Jamison Gibson-Park for a poor grubber kick.

Sexton doubled his tally with the boot and Leinster were rewarded for piling on the pressure with two tries in the space of five minutes, Lowe finishing from close range before Josh van der Flier crashed over after they lost Tadhg Furlong to injury only 16 minutes in.

It was five successful kicks out of five for Sexton when he added another penalty after one from Thomas Ramos at the other end, before Emmanuel Meafou was sin-binned late in the first half.

Leinster failed to increase their 23-10 lead while Meafou was off the field, but Lowe was left with a simple finish after he was picked out by the excellent Sexton, who expertly added the extras.

Selevasio Tolofua gave defiant Toulouse hope when he bundled himself over in the right corner and Ramos converted with 15 minutes to go, but Ross Byrne was on target with a penalty and converted a late Hugo Keenan try as Cullen's men marched into the final.

Toulouse won a record fifth European Champions Cup and their first since 2010 thanks to a 22-17 win over La Rochelle, who played much of the match a man light.

Both sides traded penalty blows during a feisty opening at Twickenham, with the scores level at 6-6 in the 27th minute thanks to Ihaia West's successful kick for La Rochelle.

But they suffered a massive setback just a few moments later as Levani Botia floored Maxime Medard with an ugly high hit.

As Botia walked off towards the sin-bin, the television match official ensured his punishment was upgraded to a red card, the first ever in a Champions Cup final.

Yet La Rochelle made it to the break with a 12-9 lead, with West's four kicks to Romain Ntamack's three the difference after a compelling – albeit brutal – first half.

West missed the target early in the second half, though, and Ntamack again evened the score as Toulouse started to up the ante.

La Rochelle were putting up a good fight with their 14 men but Toulouse finally got the match's first try with an hour played, Juan Cruz Mallia going over out wide after being fed by Selevasio Tolofua.

Toulouse looked to be coasting home as they went 22-12 up with the conversion, though a Tawera Kerr-Barlow try with five minutes to go made life a little nervy.

However, Toulouse held on to seal their fifth European crown and surpass Leinster on four, with La Rochelle's maiden appearance in a final ending in disappointment.

La Rochelle earned a convincing 32-23 victory over Leinster at Stade Marcel Deflandre to reach their first European Champions Cup final.

The French side, who had never previously made it as far as the last four, will now face fellow Top 14 club Toulouse at Twickenham on May 22.

Leinster have won the competition on four previous occasions and started Sunday's contest brightly through Tadhg Furlong's eighth-minute try.

The hosts were a man short at that point after Wiaan Liebenberg was sin-binned for an offside infringement, but they hit back thanks to a penalty and drop goal from Ihaia West.

West was successful from a couple more kicks before half-time, but only after Ross Byrne had added six points from the boot for Leinster in a tightly-contested opening period that ended with the visitors ahead by one.

That kicking battle ensued in the early stages of the second period when Byrne responded to West edging La Rochelle in front for the first time in the contest.

Leinster were a point to the good at that point but lost James Lowe to a yellow card for not rolling away in what proved to be a pivotal moment in an entertaining clash.

West split the sticks once more to restore his side's advantage and Gregory Alldritt found a way over the line 15 minutes from time, which West inevitably added to with the extras.

La Rochelle pushed for another try to seal the win and they found it as Will Skelton broke away from the driving maul to start the celebrations.

Byrne had the final say in terms of the scoring by finding a gap and dotting down late on, but La Rochelle comfortably held on to set up an all-French final at Twickenham.

Toulouse booked their place in the European Champions Cup final for the first time since 2010 as they defeated Bordeaux-Begles 21-9 on Saturday.

Romain Ntamack tallied up 11 points with the boot as fellow France star Antoine Dupont crossed for hosts Toulouse's second try of the game late on.

Matthieu Jalibert kicked Bordeaux ahead with a penalty early on, though Matthis Lebel swiftly went over to put four-time winners Toulouse in front – a try teed up by Dupont and Ntamack.

Another Jalibert three-pointer had Bordeaux back ahead, but they then had to withstand 10 minutes being down to 14 men after Cameron Woki was sin-binned.

Yet having seen off the onslaught, Bordeaux succumbed before the break, with Ntamack nudging a penalty through the sticks.

More ill-discipline from Bordeaux enabled Ntamack to nose Toulouse firmly into the driving seat following the restart, though a third penalty from Jalibert brought Bordeaux back to within five points.

Yet Bordeaux's hopes were dashed when Dupont raced through to secure Toulouse's seventh appearance in a Champions Cup final.

The showdown will be played at Twickenham on May 22, potentially in front of a crowd of up to 10,000 spectators. Leinster and La Rochelle face off in the second semi-final on Sunday.

Twickenham will host the European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup finals, with up to 10,000 fans in attendance at each.

The iconic London venue was chosen to stage the two showpiece contests after coronavirus restrictions meant Marseille was ruled out of hosting duties.

European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) and the Rugby Football Union released a joint statement confirming the news on Friday.

The Challenge Cup final will take place on 21 May, with the Champions Cup showdown the following day, and thousands of supporters will be welcomed to both.

"Fans are the lifeblood of European club tournaments and we are delighted to be able to welcome them back in a COVID-secure environment for this season's finals," said EPCR CEO Vincent Gaillard.

"Twickenham has a storied history with club rugby's greatest tournament, and it will be a fitting venue to see silverware contested next month."

The identity of the four finalists will be known after the coming weekend, with Toulouse facing Bordeaux Begles and La Rochelle meeting Leinster in the premier continental knockout tournament, while there is a possibility of an all-English final in the Challenge Cup as Leicester Tigers take on Ulster and Bath tackle Montpellier.

The European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup have been temporarily suspended after the French authorities ruled the participation of Top 14 clubs to be too much of a public health risk. 

European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) made the announcement on Monday following a meeting last week with French government officials. 

Due to concern over a new variant of coronavirus, the French government has decided to prevent its clubs from participating in games both in France and in the United Kingdom and Ireland. 

It means the EPCR has been forced to suspend the Champions Cup with two rounds of the pool phase remaining. The Challenge Cup is in its preliminary phase. 

The development would appear to place the 2021 Six Nations, scheduled to start with a meeting between France and Italy in Rome on February 6, in jeopardy. 

Last year's Six Nations tournament was only completed in October because of the pandemic-enforced delay. 

An EPCR statement read: "EPCR and the Ligue Nationale de Rugby took part in a meeting by audio conference last week with representatives of the French ministries of the Interior, Health and Sport, as well as of the President's office. 

"Notable updates to EPCR's COVID-19 protocols were presented to the French authorities, including the addition of PCR tests no earlier than three days before matches in the tournaments, conforming to French government guidelines and supplementing the existing, meticulous contact tracing measures put in place with a view to limiting the risk of transmission. 

"Against the backdrop of the recent detection of a new strain of coronavirus, the French government has directed that French clubs postpone their participation in EPCR's tournaments for the month of January, both for matches scheduled in France and for those due to be played in the United Kingdom and Ireland. 

"On the basis of this directive, EPCR had no choice but to temporarily suspend the pool stage of the Heineken Champions Cup and the preliminary stage of the Challenge Cup. 

"While respecting all further directives by governments and local authorities, and prioritising the health and welfare of players and club staff, EPCR, in conjunction with its shareholder leagues and unions, remains committed to trying to find a solution which will enable it to resume and complete the tournaments as soon as practicable. 

"EPCR will be making no further comment at the present time." 

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