Champions Cup – It took a feat for Racing in the fourth and final match of Pool A against Leinster in Dublin. It didn’t happen. Faced with one of the favorites of the competition, the Ile-de-France residents did what they could with a revamped team but that was not enough despite the first sixty minutes of high quality (36-10). Racing 92 is eliminated from the Champions Cup and will not play in the round of 16 for the first time since the 2016-2017 season.
Opposed to the Irish favorites of Leinster in the competition, the Racingmen lost arms in hand this afternoon at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin (36-10). By finishing tenth in pool A, they will not see the knockout stages of the Champions Cup, but have a good chance of playing in the final stages of the Challenge Cup, a competition they have never won.
Rugby is a sport that is played fifteen against fifteen, and in the end… Leinster wins. Just realize, the Irish province has lost only two small meetings in eight months. If statistics are not everything, the latter must have caused a big headache for Laurent Travers when preparing for this trip to Dublin against the armada of Irish internationals. So add to that a list of injured as large as the world (Woki, Diallo, Kolingar, Chavancy to name a few), and you have a fine definition of the word impossible.
And yet, Racing cast doubt on the great Leinster
Hell was promised to the Racingmen against the power of Ireland, the best attack and the best defense in the competition. So when the first seconds, the blue waves fell on Ile-de-France residents, probably surprised at the speed of execution of Ringrose, Osborne (first tenure at home in the European Cup at 20!) and others, the concern was in order. Some big defensive efforts allowed the French club to resist but without reversing the pressure and fifteen minutes into the game, the inevitable happened. On a first-hand attack, Ringrose pierced the defense and transmitted to his winger O’Brien who scored the first try of the match. 7-0.
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The following ? You could believe that the formation of Leo Cullen would quietly unfold. It was without counting on the adversary valour, and the indiscipline of the “Boys in blue”, very unusual it must be admitted. Racing gradually regained control of the game and after a yellow card against Larmour guilty of a voluntary forward, the Ile-de-France residents persevered and found the fault with the test of the young hooker Janick Tarrit after a five-yard maul. Finn Russell did not transform and Racing came back to two small points.
We remained on the same score until half-time, despite many opportunities for the Irish, who persisted in attempting penalties from five meters instead of taking the points. Racing made a very good first act there in the hell of the Aviva Stadium. The only downside is the injury to pillar Trevor Nyakane, hit in the shoulder.
Inconstant Russell, Masterful Ringrose
Upon returning from the locker room, Finn Russell missed a penalty, certainly difficult (the Scottish opener will end the match with a terrible 0/3). This is the whole paradox of the opening half on this meeting, as on so many others. Sometimes unplayable, like on Wade’s try in the 48 th, where he punched through the defense after a scrappy streak and found his winger on a 25-yard pass, he also showed a much duller face during the encounter. First in his attempts against the poles which could have allowed Racing to take a better lead in the score or on certain choices in the game (to separate from the ball at the foot to excess). In short, an inconstant Russell but a valiant Racing as ever, found in defense, which made doubt the Irish not on their best day for more than an hour of play.
Afterwards, Leo Cullen’s players wore out the Racingmen. With very long, physical sequences with one-pass play, the Irish hit the Ile-de-France defense, tiring the young French defenders, heroic all the same like an astonishing Coulibaly in the third row for his first match with the professionals. Finally, Racing cracked. And can feed some regrets because after a confusion in defense, Byrne took advantage of it and transmitted to Keenan who scored the try from 12 to 10. A few minutes later, a penalty touch finally went to the end and a first break was made (17-10 ).
The last quarter of an hour was terrible for the Ile-de-France residents who conceded three tries and saw Garry Ringrose perform a small festival. First by hitting very far in front of him and finding his winger O’Brien with a magnificent raised pass. Then by scoring the last try of the match, the sixth for the Irish province, after yet another penalty (36-10). Impressive as the 6 Nations Tournament approaches… With this improved success, Leinster finished first in Pool A with 20 points (four wins to five points) and ensured receiving in the final stages. On a commando mission to pick up the fifth star in a few months in front of their Aviva Stadium audience, the Leinstermen will be tough to beat.
Racing is therefore eliminated from the Champions Cup. The Hauts-de-Seine club had always qualified for the final stages of the Champions Cup for five seasons. Not this time. The 2022-2023 season for Ile-de-France definitely looks like the end of an era, with the future arrival of Stuart Lancaster at the head of the club. But in view of certain performances today (Coulibaly, Tarrit) this Racing has a future! From now on, the objective will be the Top 14 and the final stages of the Challenge Cup, great challenges to hope to win this famous title which the club has been missing since 2016.
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