Leinster had to wait five weeks for a game as 2021 gave way to a New Year and Omicron took its toll on the fixture list. Their wait for anything resembling a contest will have to wait another six days, at least, after this 13-try fabrication of a Champions Cup game in Ballsbridge.
Maybe the most remarkable thing about this was the fact that Leinster once scored even more in a European Cup game. They managed 92 against an equally hapless Bourgoin side in Dublin in December of 2005 but conceded 17.
That makes this their biggest ever win in the competition.
Ten different Leinster players contributed to one of the most lopsided scoreboards in the tournament’s history. It goes without saying that Montpellier - weakened by a number of Covid cases - were all shades of awful but this more or less guarantees the province their place in the knockout stages.
Next up is Bath at The Rec next Saturday. Bath are bad, but not this bad.
The French had to stumble through the last dozen minutes here with 14 men after their try scorer Masivesi Dakuwaqa saw red for a late and needless hit on a prone Josh van der Flier. By then Leinster already had ten tries to their name.
As a game, there was less edge to it than a toddler’s play area.
The down sides were few for the hosts. Among them was the loss before kick-off of captain James Ryan who was pulled from the game was described as precautionary after suffering a minor hamstring issue and the departure after just six minutes of Tadhg Furlong with a leg problem.
Not good with a Six Nations opener just three weeks away.
Leinster hadn’t played since that opening Champions Cup weekend when trouncing Bath at the Aviva Stadium and their sense of frustration had only been heightened by the loss of all five points after their planned trip to Montpellier last month was cancelled.
That decision, reiterated last week by the EPCR, caused fury in the Leinster camp with Leo Cullen expressing on Friday how confounded he was by what he described as an “illogical” decision when compared to other adjudications over games that fell victim to the pandemic.
Montpellier pitched up in Dublin with something closer to a third-team than a reserve side with Philippe Saint-Andrew including three teenagers in his ranks. This was always going to be a turkey shoot. The only unknown was how many feathers would fly.
Plenty, was the answer.
It took Leinster less than three minutes to get off the mark and four minutes shy of a half-hour to bring up the bonus point. Half-a-dozen men claimed as many tries in an opening half embellished by a blue sky and constant rays of sunlight.
Jack Conan claimed the first with Jamison Gibson-Park, Ross Byrne, Ross Molony, Michael Ala’alatoa and Jordan Larmour all adding their names to the scoresheet by the turn of ends, by which time the score sat at a fat 40-7.
Montpellier actually scored off their first attack, a 27th-minute punch down their right wing that was given momentum by a good run from former Leinster academy man Karl Martin and eventually finished off by flanker Dakuwaqa.
A second touch down got scrubbed a minute later because of a forward pass but these were minor inconveniences to a home side pulling out a succession of party tricks. One attack threw up five offloads on the spin as the crowd roared its approval. The punishment continued on the restart.
Van der Flier and Dan Sheehan claimed a pair apiece, Jimmy O’Brien snaffled himself another, Conan popped up for his second and then James Lowe chipped in with number 13 right at the end of a game that, in reality, serves little value for either club, or for the competition at large.