The Irish invasion of Twickenham Stadium is fast approaching – and defending champions Leinster Rugby will have a number of Heineken Cup landmarks in their sights when they clash with Ulster Rugby in the first all-Irish tournament final on Saturday (5.00 pm).
Leo Cullen’s team have lost just one of their last 27 matches in all tournaments with Saturday’s 19-15 RaboDirect Pro12 play-off win against Glasgow Warriors earning them final appearances on successive weekends and the chance of a European and domestic double, a feat last achieved by London Wasps in 2004.
The Heineken Cup milestones Leinster could achieve include:
• The first club to go through a tournament unbeaten (seven wins and a draw so far)
• An unprecedented three titles in four seasons (Toulouse won three in eight)
• Match Leicester Tigers (2001 and 2002) as the only clubs to defend their title
• Take their unbeaten tournament run to 15 matches
Ulster will be out stop Leinster on all counts as they bid to add the 2012 crown to the one they won 13 years ago in their only other appearance in European club rugby’s showpiece occasion – and while Leinster had that bruising clash with Glasgow to contend with Ulster were free to focus on the task ahead at Twickenham.
“We now have a number of guys in doubt but we are certainly on for Saturday,” said Leinster coach Joe Schmidt.
Ireland captain and centre Brian O’Driscoll (knee) and full back Rob Kearney (back) are concerns for the champions while Ulster have All Blacks prop John Afoa back in contention following the completion of the four-week suspension that ruled him out of the semi-final against Edinburgh Rugby.