English referee Matthew Carley to take charge of Leinster’s Champions Cup final

Carley has taken charge of European matches involving both Leinster and Toulouse this season

England’s Matthew Carley will referee the Investec Champions Cup final between Leinster and Toulouse at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium on Saturday week (2.45pm). Mathieu Raynal of France will preside over the Challenge Cup final between Gloucester and the Sharks on the Friday night at the same venue (8.0).

It is a first European final for Carley, but he has refereed both Champions Cup finalists already this season. He was in charge when Leinster beat the defending champions La Rochelle at the Stade Marcel Deflandre in the pool stages of the tournament, while he had the whistle when Toulouse hammered Ulster at the Kingspan Stadium.

Carley’s assistants will be Karl Dickson of England and Italy’s Andrea Piardi with England’s Ian Tempest as TMO and Stefano Marrama (Itay) as the match citing commissioner. Raynal, also refereeing a first European final, will have Ireland’s Andrew Brace and Pierre Brousset (France) running the line with Eric Gauzins (France) as TMO and Ed Kenny (Ireland) as citing commissioner.

In other news Ulster have confirmed that nine players will leave the province at the end of the season. Former Irish international trio, centre Luke Marshall (166 caps, retiring), outhalf Billy Burns (111), who moves to Munster and centre-fullback Will Addison (41) depart, while the list also includes flanker Greg Jones (44), centre Angus Curtis (25, retired), Springbok prop Steven Kitshoff (14), flanker Dave Ewers (14), prop James French (4) and fullback Shea O’Brien (1).


Meanwhile, former Leinster and Exeter Chiefs player Rory O’Loughlin has been advised to retire on medical grounds.

A talented centre cum wing the Dubliner suffered a serious shoulder injury at the beginning of the season and despite an intensive rehab period and attempts to get back playing, having sought medical advice, he has been advised to retire from the sport.

The 30-year-old O’Loughlin, who joined Chiefs at the outset of the 2022/23 season, made 24 appearances for the club. The former St Michael’s College student made his Leinster senior debut against Benetton in the RDS in 2016 and went on to play 99 times for the province, winning a Champions Cup (2018) and four URC titles during his time with Leinster.

An Irish underage international, he also played Sevens for the national team and won his only senior Ireland cap against Japan in 2017.

In describing his rugby career, O’Loughlin said: “While it has been a tough couple of months coming to terms with this new reality, I do count myself incredibly lucky to have played for two great clubs, alongside some of the game’s best players and more importantly some of my best mates.

“Although this season hasn’t gone to plan for me, I have loved my time here at Exeter. I was lucky enough to play in front of a packed-out Sandy Park many times in my first season. I’ve made friends here for life and the people of Exeter have been incredibly welcoming to me and my family. I’m looking forward to returning as a Chiefs fan and supporting the boys.”

Leinster and Rugby Players Ireland also paid tribute to a popular and talented player.

Munster confirmed that academy player Daniel Okeke will leave to pursue a new playing opportunity next season. The Shannon backrow spent three years in the academy after coming up through the ranks at Thomond RFC and Ardscoil Rís.

A former Ireland U20 international, he was one of 12 players to make their senior Munster debuts in the Champions Cup win against Wasps in December 2021.

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan is an Irish Times sports writer