Leinster captain Johnny Sexton said it was a devastating way to lose a Champions Cup final, as replacement scrum-half Arthur Retiere won the game with a 79th-minute try.
Sexton limped off in the closing stages and could only watch as La Rochelle came with their late surge to snatch the title.
“I’m pretty lost for words to be honest. We probably didn’t play our best today, we weren’t allowed to play our best and that is something we will have to have a look at before we can point any fingers.
“A few things at the end of the game that I can’t understand. That’s what we expect sometimes especially after the second last final that we played.
“Fair play to La Rochelle, they came with a plan. I didn’t see them coming back from the lead we had but we didn’t clear our lines well enough and we paid the price.
“It’s an incredibly hard competition to win. When you get to the final it’s the hardest game of the season. Obviously, La Rochelle are a top-class team, we knew they were going to be no different.
“We had some chances we didn’t take but we kept the scoreboard ticking over and it was just devastating to lose it the way we did at the end. There were a couple of things which could have gone our way and fair play to the boys for digging in.
“But they get a glimmer and they get in and score and it’s devastating,” said Sexton.