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|Ground(s)||RDS Arena (Capacity: 18,500)|
Aviva Stadium (Capacity: 51,700)
|Most caps||Gordon D'Arcy (257)|
|Top scorer||Jonathan Sexton (1,538)|
|Most tries||Shane Horgan (69)|
|2017–18||1st Conf B (Champions)|
Leinster Rugby (Irish: Rugbaí Laighean) is one of the four professional provincial rugby teams from the island of Ireland and the most successful Irish team both domestically and in European competition. They compete in the Pro14 and the European Rugby Champions Cup (where their 4th title, achieved in 2018, ties the record for that competition alongside Toulouse). 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.
Leinster play their home games primarily at the RDS Arena, although larger games are played in the Aviva Stadium when the capacity of the RDS is insufficient. Before moving to the RDS in 2005, Leinster's traditional home ground was Donnybrook Stadium, in Dublin 4. The province plays primarily in blue and the team crest features a harp within a rugby ball, the harp being taken from the flag of Leinster.
Leinster turned professional along with its fellow Irish provinces in 1995 and has competed in the Pro14 (formerly known as the Celtic League and the Pro12) since it was founded in 2001, having previously competed in the annual Irish interprovincial championship. Leinster "A" competed in the British and Irish Cup, winning the competition twice, before entering the Celtic Cup in 2018, winning the inaugural edition.
Leinster have five times been Pro14 champions, once European Challenge Cup winners and four times the champions of Europe.
The Leinster Branch was inaugurated at a meeting on 31 October 1879. The meeting was held at Lawrence's premises 63 Grafton Street and was largely attended. Although this was the formal founding of Leinster as we know it today, with the amalgamation of the Irish Football Union and the Northern union, the Leinster provincial team had been active since 1875 – when the first interprovincial derby was played against Ulster. The Leinster and Ulster teams also made up the representative Irish team that competed against England in Ireland's first ever international in 1875. Upon the founding of the union, Munster were also added to the fray in 1879, when their first provincial team was selected and first Munster players represented Ireland.
F. Kennedy (Wanderers) was elected first Hon. Secretary of the Branch and C.B. Croker (Lansdowne) 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 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.
Leinster Schools Interprovincial matches have been taking place since 1888. Leinster Schools beat the Ulster Schools in Belfast on Saturday 7 April by a dropped goal to a try. Their first match against Munster Schools took place on 18 March 1899, when Leinster won by two tries to one.
The Leinster Schools 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. 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 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.
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. Between 1946 and 2002 the sides would meet annually to contest the Irish Interprovincial Championship and on rare occasion would be tested against touring international sides. When rugby union was declared 'open' in 1995, these four teams became the four professional teams run by the Irish Rugby Football Union and therefore much of the history of the side has been made in the modern era.
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, 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". It was also during this time that the song “Molly Malone” became a match fixture to be sung by the fans. 
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 European 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, which was accompanied by an unsuccessful season in the Celtic League. The 2003–04 season also ended in disappointment as Leinster slumped to their worst ever league performance and failed to qualify from their European Cup group.
Leinster improved during the 2004–05 season, finishing 3rd, just three points behind the eventual winners, the Ospreys. Leinster also won all of their pool games in that year's European 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 near misses for Leinster, as they lost out on the 2005–06 and 2006–07 league titles on the final day of the season. These seasons also saw progress in the European Cup. In 2005–06, Leinster progressed to the semi-final but were eliminated by Irish rivals Munster at Lansdowne Road and they reached the quarter-final the following year where they were beaten by eventual winners London Wasps.
In 2007–08, Leinster failed to qualify from their European 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 European Cup pool despite away losses to French side Castres and English side Wasps. Victory over Harlequins in the quarter-finals 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 European 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 European 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 European Cup, Leinster defeated the top English teams (Leicester Tigers, Saracens & Northampton Saints), as well as top French sides, Toulouse (who were the defending European champions), Racing Metro & Clermont Auvergne, (the French Champions). to go on to regain their title as champions of Europe in the 2011 European Cup Final at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Trailing at half time, Leinster scored 27 unanswered points in the second half to beat Northampton 33–22 and claim their second European crown with the biggest comeback in European Cup final history. Leinster were also chasing a Pro12 & European Cup double, but lost 19–9 to Irish rivals Munster in the Pro12 Final.
In 2011–12 Leinster became only the second side ever to retain the title of European Champions. Leinster emerged unbeaten in group play to top their group and went on to defeat the Cardiff Blues 34–3 in the quarterfinals, followed by a 19–15 semifinal victory over ASM Clermont Auvergne. and defeated Ulster in the first all-Irish final 42–14, recording the most points scored and the most tries scored in a European Cup final as well as becoming the first unbeaten side to win the European Cup. Once again, Leinster targeted the double, and faced a repeat of the 2010 Pro12 final against the Ospreys. 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 despite topping the table in the regular season.
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 European 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.
Leinster continued their success in the 2013–14 season by becoming the first team ever to defend the Pro12 title, topping the league in the regular season and defeating Glasgow Warriors 34–12 in their fifth consecutive Pro12 play-off final and also secured their seventh major title in as many years.
Following a remarkable run of seven major trophies in seven years, Leinsters title run came to an end following the 2013-14 season. The 2014–15 season saw a dip in form, with Leinster finishing in fifth place in the league and failing to make the play-offs. Fortunes in the newly formed Champions Cup were better, with the team reaching the semi-final where they were defeated in extra-time by eventual winners, Toulon. At the end of the season, Head Coach, Matt O'Connor, left the club by mutual consent with former club captain, Leo Cullen, being named as his replacement. Cullen then brought in ex-England coach Stuart Lancaster `Stuart Lancaster as senior coach at the start of the 2016-17 season, which saw a huge improvement from Leinster as well a big group of young players coming through. Despite playing brilliant rugby all season, Leinster failed to win any silverware, falling short in the Champions Cup semi-final to old rivals Clermont and shocked by the Scarlets in the Pro12 Semi-Final at the RDS, however there was huge optimism amongst the players and supporters as they believed this was only the start of new generation and perhaps another era of success
|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||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||RC Toulon 29 – 14 Leinster|
|Quarter-final||Leinster 18 – 15 Bath|
|Semi-final||RC Toulon 25 – 20 Leinster (A.E.T.)|
|Quarter-final||Leinster 32 – 17 Wasps|
|Semi-final||ASM Clermont Auvergne 27 – 22 Leinster|
|Quarter-final||Leinster 30 - 19 Saracens|
|Semi-final||Leinster 38 - 16 Scarlets|
|Final||Leinster 15 - 12 Racing 92|
|2012–13||Quarter-Final||Wasps 28 – 48 Leinster|
|Semi-final||Leinster 44 – 16 Biarritz Olympique|
|Final||Leinster 34 – 13 Stade Français|
|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|
|Semi-final||Leinster 13 – 9 Ulster|
|Final||Leinster 34 – 12 Glasgow|
|Semi-final||Leinster 30 – 18 Ulster|
|Final||Leinster 10 – 20 Connacht|
|Semi-final||Leinster 15 – 27 Scarlets|
|Semi-final||Leinster 16 - 15 Munster|
|Final||Leinster 40 - 32 Scarlets|
|If teams are level at any stage, tiebreakers are applied in the following order -
Green background indicates teams that compete in the Pro14 play-offs, and also earn a place in the 2019–20 European Champions Cup
* Italics indicates defunct competition.
|17 November 1945||New Zealand Kiwis[note 6]||Lansdowne Road, Dublin||Drew||10–10||Details of Tour|
|27 November 1957||Australia||Lansdowne Road, Dublin||Lost||8–10||Match Programme|
|1 February 1961||South Africa||Lansdowne Road, Dublin||Lost||5–12||Match Programme|
|22 January 1964||New Zealand||Lansdowne Road, Dublin||Lost||3–11||Match Programme|
|7 December 1966||Australia||Lansdowne Road, Dublin||Lost||3–9||Match Programme|
|15 November 1972||New Zealand||Lansdowne Road, Dublin||Lost||9–17||Match Programme|
|15 September 1973||Fiji||Lansdowne Road, Dublin||Won||30–9||Match Programme|
|13 November 1974||New Zealand||Lansdowne Road, Dublin||Lost||3–8||Match Programme|
|21 October 1978||Argentina||Lansdowne Road, Dublin||Lost||13–24|
|30 December 1979||Italy||Donnybrook, Dublin||Won||26–10||Celebrating 100 year anniversary|
|8 October 1980||Romania||Donnybrook, Dublin||Won||24–10||Match Programme|
|8 November 1989||New Zealand||Lansdowne Road, Dublin||Lost||9–36||Match Programme|
|17 October 1992||Australia||Lansdowne Road, Dublin||Lost||11–38||Match Programme|
|12 November 1994||USA||Donnybrook, Dublin||Won||26-15||Match Programme|
|24 August 1999||Argentina||Donnybrook, Dublin||Lost||22–51||Match Report|
|31 August 2008||Queensland Reds||Donnybrook, Dublin||Won||48–19||Match Report|
|19 August 2011||Melbourne Rebels||Donnybrook, Dublin||Won||14–13||Match Report|
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 a white harp and 12 navy lines, which represent the 12 counties of Leinster, while the second kit is white with a blue harp and 12 blue lines.
The Leinster jersey also features four stars above the crest, to represent the four European 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 European 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.
In July 2014, it was announced by the RDS and Leinster rugby that a design competition was being held to develop the arena into a 25,000 capacity world class stadium, with work expected to commence on the redevelopment in April 2016. The selling of naming rights to the arena will be a key component in funding the project, with an initial budget of €20,000,000 being proposed.
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 European Cup or Pro14 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 at the venue in the 2010–11 European Cup quarter-finals and went on to beat Toulouse in the semi-finals, also held at the Aviva stadium on 30 April 2011, en route to winning their second European 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, 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's supporters were named as 'Player of the Month' for April 2009 following their support in the European Cup Quarter Final against Harlequins at The Stoop.
Leinster have the best support of any club in the PRO12 league and had an average attendance of 17,717 in the 2014–15 Pro12 season. 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 European 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, having won the competition a record two times to date, in the 2012–13 season as well as the 2013–14 season, also becoming the first and only side to ever successfully defend the trophy. Leinster A also compete in the All Ireland Inter-provincial Championship. Pre-professionalism and a formal Celtic league structure, the main Leinster team competed in the AIIPC. Since the advent of professionalism the provinces have fielded lesser teams to concentrate on the Celtic League. The team is composed of Senior Leinster squad players requiring gametime, Development contract & Academy players and, occasionally, AIL players called up from their clubs.
From the start of the 2015–16 season, Leinster A is coached by Hugh Hogan (Head Coach) and Shaun Berne (Asst Coach).
From the 2007–08 season to the 2017-18 season Leinster's kits were supplied by Canterbury of New Zealand but for the next five seasons starting with the 2018 -19 season Leinster’s kits will be supplied by Adidas. Bank of Ireland, the country's oldest banking institution are Leinster's primary sponsors appearing in the front of their shirt, their sleeves, the top back of their shirt and the front right of their shorts. The Bank of Ireland symbol appeared on Leinster's front right and front left collars. On occasion the team will wear a shirt adorned with the logo of another sponsor due to a promotion run annually by the bank offering up the sponsorship space to an Irish business by way of a competition to win the right to become sponsor for a day. During the 2013–14 season the contest was won by Dublin-based meat wholesaler Gahan Meats and for 2014–15 the shirt sponsorship winners were accounting software provider Big Red Cloud. The sponsorship prize package is valued at €50,000 and attracts hundreds of companies keen to be shortlisted each year. The left of Leinster's back shorts had Bank of Ireland between 2009 and 2013 where it was replaced by Bank of Ireland's Twitter address right up until 2015 where it was replaced by Laya Healthcare. The teams 'official airline' is Irelands' CityJet.
|Chief Executive||Mick Dawson||Ireland|
|Head of Rugby Operations||Guy Easterby||Ireland|
|Head Coach||Leo Cullen||Ireland|
|Senior Coach||Stuart Lancaster||England|
|Backs Coach||Felipe Contepomi||Argentina|
|Scrum Coach||John Fogarty||Ireland|
|Kicking Coach & Head Analyst||Emmet Farrell||Ireland|
|Contact Skills Coach||Hugh Hogan||Ireland|
Note: Flags indicate national union as has been defined under WR eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-WR nationality.
The Leinster academy squad for 2018–19 is:
Note: Flags indicate national union as has been defined under WR eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-WR nationality.
|Ebbw Vale RFC||1||1||0||0||100.00%|
Correct as of 12 January 2019.
In head-to-head terms, Leinster dominate Irish provincial rivals Ulster with a 29–7 win-loss record. Similarly Leinster enjoy a 24–8 win:loss ratio against western province Connacht. Leinster hold only a narrow head-to-head lead against arch-rivals Munster in one of the most intense derbies in world rugby, where they possess a 23–16 advantage. Munster are the closest Pro12 team to having a positive record against Leinster - all of the league's other sides have substantial losing records against Leinster. The Welsh side Celtic Warriors existed in the league for its first couple of seasons and have a positive record against Leinster of two wins and zero defeats, but the sides only ever played a couple of matches head-to-head before Celtic Warriors and a number of other Welsh clubs went out of business or merged. This was also at a time when Leinster were nowhere near as strong as they are now.
In European terms, out of teams who have played at least three games against Leinster, only a few enjoy a winning record. Stade Toulousain (Toulouse) have a slim 6–5 advantage after 10 matches between the two teams. Stade Francais lead Leinster 3–2, while RC Toulon have a commanding 4–0 head-to-head lead. These are the only European clubs who have played against Leinster at least three times who have a winning record against them. Unless a negligible number of matches has been played no English, Irish, Welsh, Scottish or Italian clubs lead Leinster in head-to-head terms.
See also Category:Leinster Rugby players. All players are Irish unless otherwise indicated.
The following is a list of non-Irish qualified representative Leinster players:
* indicates World Cup winners
† Ben Te'o subsequently represented England at international level
|Coach||Season(s)||GP||W||D||L||Win %||Loss %||Championships / Notes|
|Mike Ruddock||1997/98 – 1999/00||34||16||0||18||47.1%||52.9%||Interprovincial Championship (1998)|
|Matt Willams||2000/01 – 2002/03||46||31||3||12||67.4%||26.1%||Pro12 (2002)
Interprovincial Championship (2002)
|Gerry Murphy||2004/05||4||2||0||2||50%||50%||Interim Coach|
|Michael Cheika||2005/06 – 2009/10||134||88||4||42||65.7%||31.3%||Pro12 (2008)|
|Joe Schmidt||2010/11 – 2012/13||99||77||3||19||77.8%||19.2%||European Cup (2011), (2012) |
Challenge Cup (2013)
|Matt O'Connor||2013/14 – 2014/15||61||40||5||16||65.6%||26.2%||Pro12 (2014)|
|Leo Cullen||2015/16 – Present||112||82||2||28||73.2%||24.1%||European Cup (2018)|
(correct as of 6 January 2019)
Bold indicates active player
World Rugby Player of the Year
Nominated (4-6 nominees per year)
World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year
Nominated (3 nominees per year)
World Rugby Junior Player of the Year
Inaugurated 2008 - awarded to World Rugby Under 20 Championship player of the tournament
Nominated (3 - 5 nominees per year)
All players listed below are Irish unless otherwise noted.
European Player of the Year
ERC European Dream Team
European Cup player records