|Nickname(s)||Les Bleus, Boys in Blue|
|Ground(s)||RDS Arena (Capacity: 18,500)
Aviva Stadium (Capacity: 51,700)
Leinster Rugby (Irish: Rugbaí Laighean) is one of the four professional provincial rugby teams from Ireland. They compete in the domestic league of the Rabo Direct Pro12 and the European championship, the Heineken Cup. The team represents the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) Leinster Branch, which is one of four primary branches of the IRFU and is responsible for rugby union throughout the geographical Irish province of Leinster. The province plays in blue and gold and the crest is in the form of a harp. Leinster's traditional home ground was Donnybrook Stadium, in Dublin 4 although the majority of home games are now played at the RDS Arena. Bigger games are played in the Aviva Stadium when the capacity of the RDS Arena is insufficient.
Leinster turned professional along with the teams representing the other Irish provinces in 1995 and has competed in the Rabo Direct Pro12 (formerly known as the Celtic League and the Magners League) since it was founded in 2001, having previously competed in the annual Irish interprovincial championship. Leinster "A" competes in the British and Irish Cup. Leinster have three times been PRO12 champions and three times champions of Europe.
On 19 May 2012 Leinster won a record third Heineken Cup in four years with a 42-14 win over Ulster Rugby in the first final to feature two teams from Ireland. Leinster are currently ranked 1st in the European Rugby Club Rankings.
- 1 History
- 2 Current standings
- 3 Previous seasons
- 4 Honours
- 5 Colours and crest
- 6 Stadia
- 7 Supporters
- 8 Leinster A
- 9 Coaches
- 10 Current squad
- 11 Transfers 2014-15
- 12 Notable players & staff
- 13 Personnel honours and records
- 14 See also
- 15 References
- 16 External links
Founding (1875 - 1899)
In amateur days, the four Irish provinces played against each other in the Irish Interprovincial Championship and also played touring international sides. The first Interprovincial matches between Leinster, Ulster and Munster were held in 1875. At this time, the matches were played with 20 players a side. Leinster lost to Ulster by a converted try and beat Munster by one goal to nil. Since then there has been a match between these teams annually, with Connacht joining the fold in 1885.
The Leinster Branch was formed in 1879 in a meeting at 63 Grafton Street. The clubs represented at the meeting were; Wanderers, Lansdowne, Arlington School, Dublin University, Dundalk, Phoenix F.C. and Stephen's Hospital. F. Kennedy (Wanderers) was elected first Hon. Secretary of the Branch and C.B. Croker (Lansdowne) was first Hon. Treasurer.
The function of the Branch was to organise the game of rugby football in the province. Every year five representatives would be selected to join the IRFU Committee. They would be known was the "Leinster Five" and would pick the Leinster representative teams.
The first official Leinster Senior Challenge Cup was created in 1881. Once this knock out competition was firmly established, there was a natural demand for a competitive league. Thus the Senior Challenge Cup was followed by the Senior League. The other natural progression was the creation of leagues to follow all cups played at all levels of competition such as the Junior Cup and the Junior League, the Third A Cup (Moran Cup) by the Junior 3 League and so on.
The Leinster Schools Rugby Senior Cup, which is one of the biggest annual events in Leinster Rugby commenced in 1887. The competition is still one of the most prestigious competitions to win in Leinster Rugby to date. Leinster Schools Interprovincial matches have been taking place since 1888. Leinster Schools beat the Ulster Schools in Belfast on Saturday, April 7, by a dropped goal to a try. Their first match against Munster Schools took place on March 18, 1899, when Leinster won by two tries to one. Connacht joined the fray in 1928.
Amateur period (1900 - 1990s)
The early 1920s led to the creation of the Provincial Towns Cup and the Metropolitan Cup, which are still hard fought competitions in the Leinster Rugby calendar. Much has changed in rugby over the years, but the original idea of Leinster Club Rugby acting as a feeder for the Leinster Interprovincial side, though now professional, still stands true.
All Interprovincial matches were abandoned during the years of the Great War (1914–18) and the War period (1939–45), though unofficial matches were played.
The first major touring side to play Leinster was a team drawn from the New Zealand Army - the Kiwis, in 1946. Although it was not an official touring side organised by the New Zealand Rugby Union, the quality of the match, which was drawn 10 points each, is still remembered to this day.
Before the days of professional rugby union, there was further emphasis on Irish club rugby as opposed to the provincial game. During these times the provincial sides were purely representative sides and games were far less frequent than now. When rugby union was declared 'open' in 1995, these four teams became the four professional teams run by the Irish Rugby Football Union.
Leinster Lions (1990s-2005)
Leinster became a professional outfit in the mid-1990s. The "Leinster Lions" name came into existence during the 2001–02 season as the result of a joint marketing initiative between Leinster Rugby and its kit sponsors, the Canterbury Clothing Company. Before the start of the 2004–05 season, however, the 'Lions' was dropped from the name. It is still used for marketing and branding, in particular the Cubs Club for Junior members of Leinster Rugby. The Leinster mascot is "Leo the Lion".
Leinster's first season in the newly formed Celtic League ended in success as the Lions were crowned the inaugural champions, beating rivals Munster Rugby in the 2001–02 final. In 2002–03, they became only the third team in the history of the Heineken Cup to win all their games in pool play. They also went one step further in the playoffs than the previous season by reaching the semi-finals (for the first time since 1995–96), but lost at home against French side Perpignan. This was accompanied by an unsuccessful season in the Celtic League which was followed up again with a disappointing season.
Title misses (2004–06)
Leinster did begin to creep back up the table during the 2004–05 season, finishing 3rd, just 3 points behind the eventual winners. Leinster also won all of their pool games in that year's Heineken Cup, and were again among the favourites for the title. However, they went out at the quarter final stage to Leicester Tigers.
The next two seasons of the Celtic League were to end in heartbreak for Leinster fans as the both the 2005–06 and 2006–07 titles were lost on the final day of the season. These seasons also saw progress in the Heineken Cup. In 2005–06, Leinster progressed to the semi-final but were eliminated by Irish rivals Munster at Lansdowne Road. Leinster reached the quarter-final the following year where they were beaten by London Wasps.
European and Celtic success (2007-)
In 2007–08, Leinster failed to qualify from their Heineken Cup pool, but did end the season as Celtic League champions, sealing the title with a 41–8 victory over the Newport Gwent Dragons in front of their home fans at the RDS.
In the 2008–09 season, Leinster topped their Heineken Cup pool despite away losses to French side Castres and English side Wasps. Victory over Harlequins in the quarterfinals followed, despite the Bloodgate Scandal. Leinster overcame Munster 25–6 in a semi-final in Dublin's Croke Park that broke the world record attendance for a "club" rugby union game with a crowd of over 82,200. Leinster won the 2009 Heineken Cup Final in Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh, beating Leicester Tigers 19-16 to claim their first European crown.
In 2009–10 Leinster was eliminated from the Heineken Cup at the semi-final stage by eventual winners Toulouse. Also despite having topped the Pro12 league during the regular season, Leinster lost the first ever Play-Off Final 17-12 on their home ground to the Ospreys.
In the 2010–11 Heineken Cup, Leinster defeated the top English teams (Leicester Tigers, Saracens & Northampton Saints), and the top French sides, the defending champions and also the defending European champions (Toulouse, Racing Metro & Clermont Auvergne). Leinster regained their title as champions of Europe in the 2011 Heineken Cup Final at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Trailing at half time, Leinster scored 27 unanswered points in the second half to win 33 - 22 and claim their second European crown with the biggest comeback in Heineken Cup final history. Leinster were also chasing a Pro12 & Heineken Cup double, but lost 19 - 9 to Irish rivals Munster in the Magners League final.
In 2011–12 Leinster became only the second side to retain the title of European Champions. Leinster emerged unbeaten in group play to top their group. Leinster defeated the Cardiff Blues 34-3 in the quarterfinals, followed by a 19-15 semifinal victory over ASM Clermont Auvergne. Leinster defeated Ulster in the first all-Irish final 42-14, recording the most points scored and the most tries scored in a Heineken Cup final. Once again, Leinster targeted the double, and faced a repeat of the 2010 final against the Ospreys in the Pro12 final. However, Leinster's domestic title challenge fell at the final hurdle, conceding a final minute try to slump to a one point defeat, and unable to complete the double.
The 2012–13 campaign proved to be another successful season for Leinster Rugby. The club finished in second place during the regular season of the Pro12 and defeated Glasgow Warriors by a score of 17-15 in their semi-final play-off match on 11 May 2013. On 17 May, Leinster were crowned champions of the Amlin Challenge Cup after defeating Stade Français 34-13 in the final at their home ground, the RDS Arena. Leinster successfully completed the double on 25 May, defeating Ulster 24-18 in the Pro12 final to claim their third league championship.
|Team||Played||Won||Drawn||Lost||Points For||Points Against||Points Difference||Tries For||Tries Against||Try Bonus||Losing Bonus||Points|
|10||Newport Gwent Dragons||19||6||1||12||339||419||−80||29||38||0||5||31|
If teams are level at any stage, tiebreakers are applied in the following order:
|Green background (rows 1 to 4) are play-off places. The top team from each country, plus the three highest-placed teams apart from those, will qualify for the Rugby Champions Cup. Updated 19 April 2014. Source: RaboDirect PRO12|
|2001–02||1st (Pool A)||7||7||0||0||0||21|
|Quarter-Final||Leinster 34 – 22 Newport|
|Semi-Final||Leinster 35 – 13 Glasgow|
|Final||Leinster 24 – 20 Munster|
|2002–03||5th (Pool B)||7||3||0||4||6||18|
|Semi-final||Leinster 16 – 6 Munster|
|Final||Leinster 12 – 17 Ospreys|
|Semi-final||Leinster 18 - 3 Ulster|
|Final||Munster 19 - 9 Leinster|
|Semi-final||Leinster 19 - 15 Glasgow|
|Final||Leinster 30 - 31 Ospreys|
|Semi-final||Leinster 17 - 15 Glasgow|
|Final||Ulster 18 - 24 Leinster|
Amlin European Challenge Cup
|2012–13||Quarter-Final||London Wasps 28 - 48 Leinster|
|Semi-Final||Leinster 44 - 16 Biarritz|
|Final||Leinster 34 - 13 Stade Français|
Heineken European Cup
|Semi-final||Leinster 14 – 23 Cardiff|
|Quarter-final||Leicester Tigers 29 – 18 Leinster|
|Quarter-final||Leinster 18 – 13 Biarritz Olympique|
|Semi-final||Leinster 14 – 21 USA Perpignan|
|Quarter-final||Leinster 13 – 29 Leicester Tigers|
|Quarter-final||Toulouse 35 – 41 Leinster|
|Semi-final||Leinster 6 – 30 Munster|
|Quarter-final||London Wasps 35 - 13 Leinster|
|Quarter-final||Harlequins 5 – 6 Leinster|
|Semi-final||Munster 6 – 25 Leinster|
|Final||Leinster 19 – 16 Leicester Tigers|
|Quarter-final||Leinster 29 – 28 ASM Clermont Auvergne|
|Semi-final||Toulouse 26 – 16 Leinster|
|Quarter-final||Leinster 17 – 10 Leicester Tigers|
|Semi-final||Leinster 32 – 23 Toulouse|
|Final||Leinster 33 – 22 Northampton Saints|
|Quarter-final||Leinster 34 - 3 Cardiff|
|Semi-final||ASM Clermont Auvergne 15 - 19 Leinster|
|Final||Leinster 42 - 14 Ulster|
|Quarter-final||Toulon 29 - 14 Leinster|
- PRO12 (Formerly known as Celtic League / Magners League)
- Irish Inter-Provincial Championship (contested from 1946 to 2002)
- Winners: 22 (1949, 1950*, 1955*, 1957*, 1959, 1961, 1962, 1964, 1965*, 1972, 1973*, 1976*, 1978*, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983*, 1984, 1994*, 1996, 1998*, 2002)
Bold indicates Grand Slam; * indicates shared title
Colours and crest
Though Leinster Rugby now compete in blue, the team wore green during the early years. The harp has long been associated with the province of Leinster and so Leinster Rugby have sported the harp since their first interprovincial game against Ulster. Though the provincial colours have changed since then, the current provincial crest remains a modernised version of this harp. Legend has it that the harp was adopted Leinster Symbol in the 17th century when Eoghan Ruadh O’Neill flew a green flag with a golden harp from his ship, the St Francis having anchored it at Dunkirk. O'Neill later returned to Ireland to help the Irish Confederation whose headquarters were in Kilkenny, Leinster. The current crest was introduced in 2005 as Leinster Rugby held no copyright on the previous crest. The new, stylised crest, is made specific to Leinster Rugby as it incorporates the harp with a rugby ball. The Leinster Rugby crest is on all official club merchandise including replica jerseys.
The province's current kit is blue with gold trim and a white harp, whilst the second kit is white with a blue harp.
The Leinster jersey also features three stars above the crest, to represent the three Heineken Cup titles won to date.
Leinster's current home ground is the RDS Arena. Games were first played at the RDS during the 2005–06 season, initially just for Heineken Cup games. By the following season however, all games had been moved to the RDS. The RDS has undergone large scale redevelopment since Leinster moved in. The arena now has a mostly seated capacity of 18,500. As the RDS remains a showjumping venue, the North and South stands are removable. A roof has been constructed to cover the grandstand opposite the pre-existing Anglesea stand. The RDS will be Leinster's home until 2027, as a 20 year lease was signed in 2007.
For bigger games where the RDS does not have sufficient capacity, Leinster play their games at the Aviva Stadium, which has an all-seater capacity of 51,700. These are often key home games in the Heineken Cup or PRO12 games against domestic rivals. In 2010 they first played a home league game against Munster, the first time the stadium sold out, and then against ASM Clermont Auvergne. Leinster defeated Leicester Tigers in the Aviva in the 2010–11 Heineken Cup quarter-finals. They then went on to beat Toulouse in the semi-finals in the Aviva on 30 April 2011 en route to winning their second Heineken Cup. The following season Leinster hosted Munster, Bath and Cardiff at the Aviva Stadium and remained unbeaten at the ground until December 2012 when they lost 21-28 to ASM Clermont Auvergne.
Leinster's traditional home over the years has been Donnybrook Stadium in Donnybrook, Dublin 4. Donnybrook consists of a single covered stand and three sides of open terracing. A move across Dublin 4 to the RDS Arena for Leinster was needed to accommodate growing crowds, as the 6,000 capacity stadium had become too small. For this reason, Leinster have signed a long term lease with the Royal Dublin Society to play home games at the RDS Arena. Donnybrook has since, however, been improved as a venue with the reconstruction of the grandstand in 2008 and remains an important venue for rugby union in Dublin. Due to limited space, it is unlikely that Donnybrook will undergo further redevelopment. Leinster A play their British and Irish Cup games in the stadium and the senior team have continued to hold certain pre-season friendlies in the stadium as well as most Leinster schools cup matches being held at the venue.
Before the advent of professionalism in the Irish game, provincial rugby games were generally poorly attended. During most of the 1990s, Leinster matches regularly attracted crowds of about 500 to 2,000. The decision to structure the game professionally via the provincial network through centralised player contracts and the subsequent on-field success achieved by Leinster and the other provinces resulted in a significant increase in support within a decade. Leinster had 3,700 season ticket holders in 2006, double the amount of the previous season. Leinster were the best supported team in the PRO12 for the 2006–07, 2007–08 and 2011–12 seasons. Leinster's supporters were named as 'Player of the Month' for April 2009 following their support in the Heineken Cup Quarter Final against Harlequins at The Stoop. Leinster's average crowd numbers have risen considerably in recent years from 3,926 during the first season of the PRO12, to the current PRO12 average of 18,682. Leinster currently have roughly 12,500 season ticket holders.
Leinster hold the record for the biggest PRO12 attendance. On 2 October 2010, Leinster played Munster in the 5th round of the league at the Aviva Stadium, this set a new crowd attendance record for a PRO12 game at 50,645. Leinster won the match 13–9.
The last match at the old Landsdowne Road stadium was against Ulster on 31 December 2006 before it was demolished to make way for the new Aviva Stadium, earning the match the moniker of "The Last Stand". Leinster won the match 20–12, with an attendance of 48,000 – a record at the time. A previous attendance record in the PRO12 was also set at Lansdowne Road, for a game between Leinster and Munster which drew a crowd of 30,000. Leinsters Heineken Cup clash against Munster at Croke Park set a world record attendance for a "club" rugby union game with a crowd of 82,208. The Official Leinster Supporters Club was formally established as a club in 2007.
Leinster A is the team that represents Leinster in the British & Irish Cup and in the All Ireland Inter-provincial Championship. Pre-professionalism and a formal Celtic league structure, the main Leinster team competed in the AIPC. Since the advent of professionalism the provinces have fielded lesser teams in order to concentrate on the Celtic League. The team is composed of Senior Leinster squad players requiring gametime, Academy players and AIL players called up from their clubs.
|Head Coach||Matt O'Connor||Australia|
|Forwards Coach||Jono Gibbes||New Zealand|
|Scrum Coach||Greg Feek||New Zealand|
|Skills & Kicking Coach||Richie Murphy||Ireland|
|Chief Executive||Mick Dawson||Ireland|
|Team Manager||Guy Easterby||Ireland|
|Academy Director||Girvan Dempsey||Ireland|
|Team Doctor||Prof. John Ryan||Ireland|
|Team Doctor||Prof. Arthur Tanner||Ireland|
|Team Doctor||Dr. Jim McShane||Ireland|
|Strength & Speed Coach||Daniel Tobin||Ireland|
|Rehabilitation Coach||Stephen Smith||Ireland|
Note: Flags indicate national union as has been defined under IRB eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-IRB nationality.
- Bold indicates internationally capped player.
- * Indicates player is qualified to play for Ireland by residency or dual nationality.
- Leo Cullen retired
- Conor Gilsenan to London Irish
- Darren Hudson to Bristol
- Jack O'Connell to Bristol
- Brian O'Driscoll retired
Notable players & staff
See also Category:Leinster Rugby players
British and Irish Lions from Leinster
British and Irish Lions from other nations
The following Leinster players, in addition to representing their national team, have also represented the British and Irish Lions.
Notable former overseas players
The following is a list of former non-Irish international representative Leinster players:
* indicates World Cup winners
Former Head Coaches (Professional era)
- Josef Schmidt (2010/11 - 2012/13) - 4 titles (Heineken European Cup x 2, Amlin European Challenge Cup, PRO12)
- Michael Cheika (2005/06 - 2009/10) - 2 titles (Heineken European Cup, PRO12)
- Gerry Murphy (Interim Coach 2004/05)
- Declan Kidney (2004/05)
- Gary Ella (2003/04)
- Matt Williams (2000/01 - 2002/03) - 2 titles (PRO12, Irish Interprovincial Championship)
- Mike Ruddock (1997/98 - 1999/00) - 1 title (Irish Interprovincial Championship)
Former Captains (Professional era)
- Brian O'Driscoll (2005/06 - 2007/08) - 1 title (PRO12)
- Reggie Corrigan (2001/02 - 2004/05) - 2 titles (PRO12, Irish Interprovincial Championship)
- Liam Toland (1999/00 - 2000/01)
- Gabriel Fulcher (1998/99)
- Kurt McQuilkin (1997/98) - 1 title (Irish Interprovincial Championship)
Personnel honours and records
ERC Elite Awards
- 50 Caps: Shane Horgan (87), Gordon D'Arcy (83), Leo Cullen (81 total, 69 for Leinster), Brian O'Driscoll (78), Malcolm O'Kelly (74), Girvan Dempsey (68), Shane Byrne (61 total, 55 for Leinster), Reggie Corrigan (61), Shane Jennings (61 total, 46 for Leinster), Trevor Brennan (57 total, 22 for Leinster), Victor Costello (57), Denis Hickie (54), Jamie Heaslip (53), Eoin Reddan (53 total, 26 for Leinster), Eric Miller (52 total, 34 for Leinster); Nathan Hines (69 total, 17 for Leinster)
- 25 Tries: Brian O'Driscoll (31), Shane Horgan (27), Gordon D'Arcy (25)
(Correct as of 19 May 2012)
ERC European Player of the Year
ERC European Dream Team
The following Leinster players were selected in the ERC European Dream Team, an all-time dream team of Heineken Cup players.
Elsom had the fewest Heineken Cup appearances in the team and was the only member born outside of Europe. Both players were part of the 2008–09 Heineken Cup winning team.
PRO12 Team of the Year
- 2006–07: Felipe Contepomi, Gordon D'Arcy, Denis Hickie, Jamie Heaslip
- 2007–08: Felipe Contepomi, Leo Cullen, Jamie Heaslip, Bernard Jackman, Ollie Le Roux, Malcolm O'Kelly, Stan Wright
- 2008–09: Rocky Elsom, Jamie Heaslip, Brian O'Driscoll
- 2009–10: Leo Cullen, Jamie Heaslip, Brian O'Driscoll
- 2010–11: Jamie Heaslip, Isa Nacewa, Sean O'Brien, Mike Ross, Richardt Strauss
- 2011–12: Isa Nacewa, Richardt Strauss
- 2012–13: Ian Madigan
- Most Appearances: (87) Shane Horgan
- Most Points: (402) Jonathan Sexton
- Most Tries: (32) Brian O'Driscoll
- Most Cons & Pens: (137) Jonathan Sexton
(correct as of 27 May 2013)
- Most Appearances:(118) Shane Jennings
- Most Points: (877) Felipe Contepomi
- Most Tries:(39) Shane Horgan
- Most Cons & Pens: (302) Felipe Contepomi
Bold indicates highest overall League record. (correct as of 27 May 2013).
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- Official site
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- Unofficial Leinster Calendar & Results