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Lyon OU vs Leinster Rugby
Heineken Champions Cup Pool 1
Matmut Stadium de Gerland, Lyon
Saturday, 23rd November 2019, 16:15 (15:15 Irish time)

TV: Live on BT Sports

In terms of great European matches at the RDS, last week's game against Benetton will rank fairly low in the list.

Leinster were okay but never really got out of third gear and realistically never had to. They admittedly got complacent after scoring the bonus point try and their performance levels dipped dramatically. But it's probably no harm to have a week of tough self-examination ahead of a trip to France.

Despite their return to the top table of European rugby in the last three seasons, Leinster's recent record in France is still pretty poor. Their win away to Montpellier two seasons ago was their only win of their last five pool matches in France. It's remains a hard place to go and get a win and Lyon will present another tough challenge this weekend. Lyon has never been a traditional power in French rugby in the professional era, despite being a large and vibrant city.

At the turn of the decade they started to see some investment in the team and they gained promotion in 2011 to the Top14. It wasn't all smooth sailing though and they suffered two relegations before finally gaining a firm foothold in the last few seasons. They first earned qualification to the Heineken Champions Cup last season but after an early defeat to Cardiff, they pretty much threw their hat at it and lost every game. They continued their losing streak in the competition away to Northampton last week. In fairness they came back from a fairly abysmal first half performance when they trailed 19-0 to get two tries in the second half but still ran out 25-14 losers.

They lead the Top 14 though with eight wins from nine and with six wins out of six at home. They've amassed a squad with several familiar names from French rugby. Raphael Chaume, Clement Ric, Jean-Marcellin Buttin and Noa Nakaitaci are all former Clermont players. Leinster fans might also remember Josua Tuisova, Xavier Chiocci, Liam Gill and Alexis Palisson from their days with Toulon. They've also got a number of decent French internationals in the likes of Felix Lambey, Demba Bamba and Loann Goujon while Charlie Ngatai and Rudi Wulf are a couple of quality kiwi backs.

Their coach Pierre Mignoni has promised a better effort in Europe this season and he's signaled his intent by picking a much-changed team this weekend. Only Noa Nakaitaici and Charlie Ngatai retain their places from last week in the backline and only Liam Gill and Carl Fearns remain from last week's pack.

For Leinster the injuries are starting to mount up and they find themselves a bit stretched in both the back row and the centre this weekend. Leo Cullen has made five personnel changes to the side that started last week. In the backs Rob Kearney returns at full back and Jordan Larmour moves to the right wing. Robbie Henshaw comes in at inside centre to partner Garry Ringrose. In the pack Tadhg Furlong and Scott Fardy come in to start in the front five and in the back row Max Deegan makes his first European start for Leinster at number eight.

It will be evident fairly early on if Lyon are up for it. If they are, Leinster might do well to come away with a losing bonus point.

Leinster Rugby (caps in brackets):

15. Rob Kearney (211)

14. Jordan Larmour (40)

13. Garry Ringrose (66)

12. Robbie Henshaw (38)

11. James Lowe (35)

10. Johnny Sexton (161) CAPTAIN

9. Luke McGrath (115)

1. Cian Healy (210)

2. Ronan Kelleher (8)

3. Tadhg Furlong (102)

4. Scott Fardy (49)

5. James Ryan (32)

6. Rhys Ruddock (163)

7. Josh van der Flier (74)

8. Max Deegan (53)

16. James Tracy (99)

17. Ed Byrne (46)

18. Andrew Porter (55)

19. Devin Toner (237)

20. Josh Murphy (26)

21. Jamison Gibson-Park (77)

22. Ross Byrne (77)

23. Dave Kearney (140)

Not considered due to injury: Dan Leavy, Barry Daly, Jack Conan, Sean Cronin, Fergus McFadden, Vakh Abdaladze, Joe Tomane, Rory O'Loughlin, Caelan Doris

1. Xavier Chiocci

2. Mickael Ivaldi

3. Demba Bamba

4. Virgile Bruni

5. Hendrik Roodt

6. Julien Puricelli

7. Liam Gill

8. Carl Fearns

9. Baptiste Couilloud (cap)

10. Jonathan Wisniewski (o)

11. Noa Nakaitaici

12. Charlie Ngatai

13. Thibaut Regard

14. Xavier Mignot

15. Toby Arnold

16. Jeremie Maurouard

17. Raphael Chaume

18. Francisco Gomez-Kodela

19. Etienne Oosthuizen

20. Loann Goujon

21. Jonathan Pelissie

22. Jean-Marcellin Buttin

23. Rudi Wulf

Referee: Luke Pearce (England)

Assistant Ref 1: Hamish Smales (England)

Assistant Ref 2: Tim Wigglesworth (England)

TMO: Graham Hughes (England)

by Jim O'Connor, © 2019-11-22

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