Toulouse, defending champion, was eliminated in the semi-final of the European Rugby Cup by the Irish province of Leinster (40-17) on Saturday at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Passed narrowly in the previous rounds against Ulster and Munster, Toulouse stumbled on Saturday in Dublin. The heroes were tired. After digging deep into their physical and mental resources to crucify Munster on penalties (24-24 aet, 4-2) last week in the quarterfinals, already in Dublin, the reigning European and French champions n didn’t have the weapons to compete.

In an Aviva Stadium not quite full (42,076 spectators) but totally won over to their opponent, they fell on stronger and will have to count on Racing 92 or La Rochelle, opposed Sunday (4:00 p.m.) in the second semi-final, to prevent Leinster from equaling their record five continental titles. Under a generous sun, this clash of titans kept all its promises in terms of intensity from the start. Already ruthless last week in the first half in Leicester (20-0 for a 23-14 final victory), the Irish put enormous pressure on Toulouse.

The first try of the match, scored after an 80-meter solitary sprint by the inevitable Antoine Dupont after countering a game at the foot of his vis-à-vis, was only a sham (3-7 in the 7th minute). Too often pierced by the blue waves, with formidable precision, the Toulouse defense folded twice during the first twenty unbreathable minutes (20-7). The second semi-final will oppose two other French clubs, Racing 92 and La Rochelle, on Sunday. The final will take place on May 28 in Marseille.