Champions Cup: La Rochelle star Gregory Alldritt revels in ‘huge’ victory

Colin Newboult

La Rochelle captain Gregory Alldritt has dedicated their Champions Cup final victory to the fans.

The town only has a population of 75,000, but it felt like the majority of them made the seven-and-a-half hour car journey down to Marseille.

Officially, they were backed by 20,000 supporters at the Stade Velodrome and those fans cheered the team to a stunning 24-21 triumph over four-time winners Leinster.

It was a landmark day for La Rochelle, who claimed their first-ever top-tier trophy, and Alldritt was utterly delighted with the win.

Emptied the tank

“This victory is huge, I am emptied,” he said.

“[When] I arrive in La Rochelle, I think I will realise. What makes the most fun is to bring the trophy back to the fans.

“I think they deserve it almost more than we do. They never let us go. When you see the Vélodrome, what more do you want? We just can’t wait to give them the trophy. They are so wonderful.”

La Rochelle came from 18-10 behind going into the final quarter to claim the title and Alldritt stated that their aim was to keep in touch with Leinster for the first hour.

“We decided it, we did it. Nobody believed in us, but we knew where we were going,” he told AFP.

“We told ourselves that if we were still in the game at the 60th minute, it would play in our favour and that’s what happened.”

Ronan O’Gara’s men were also determined to prove people wrong, with Leinster seen as heavy favourites going into the Champions Cup final.

“That is a moment that the club has been waiting for, a title,” scrum-half Thomas Berjon said.

“We were not favourites, but our spirit paid off. That puts La Rochelle on the map of Europe, that is huge it being our first trophy.”

Matthias Haddad said: “I only hope it is the beginning. We worked like dogs for this, we were seen as losers and we have shut up our detractors.”

READ MORE: Champions Cup final highlights: La Rochelle edge out Leinster in thrilling occasion