Rugby: Ex-All Blacks Jerome Kaino, Charlie Faumuina win Europe's Champions Cup with Toulouse

Jerome Kaino's Toulouse broke fellow French club La Rochelle's resilience to claim a record-extending fifth Champions Cup title with a 22-17 victory after their opponents played more than half of the game with 14 men at Twickenham on Sunday (NZ time).

Juan Cruz Mallia, standing in at centre for the injured Zack Holmes, scored the decisive try on the hour after La Rochelle had mounted a fierce challenge despite the sending off of Levani Botia for a dangerous tackle in their first final appearance.

"I'm absolutely stoked, and it didn't come easy. I'm glad we got over the line,'' Kaino said after the match.

"I knew this was my last chance to win the European Cup, and I'm very proud of the team, the club, our preparation, the way we are managing this season.''

First-five Romain Ntamack, whose father Emile won three European titles with Toulouse, kicked 17 points while La Rochelle scored through the boot of Ihaia West and found some late hope with former All-Black Tawera Kerr-Barlow's try.

It is Toulouse's first Champions Cup title since 2010, which completes a French double after Montpellier beat Leicester Tigers in the Challenge Cup final.

France halfback Antoine Dupont, who led Toulouse to the title, was also named European player of the year, becoming the first Frenchman to win the accolade.

"It is huge for Toulouse, for the city and all our fans. We made them proud. The first half was tricky, three points here and there, but the second half was better and made it a nice final," said winger Matthis Lebel.

La Rochelle captain Romain Sazy, like most of his team mates, was left in tears after what was only his side's 19th European game.

"I'm frustrated. It's a big failure and losing this way is hard to swallow. We stuck together after the red card. But it's hard to end the campaign like this," he said.

Kaino was joined in the winner's circle by former All Blacks teammate, prop Charlie Faumuina, adding another medal to their French Top 14 title won in 2019.

Meanwhile, La Rochelle contain New Zealand trio Kerr-Barlow, former All Black Victor Vito, and former Blues first-five Ihaia West. Former Waikato coach Jono Gibbes is La Rochelle's director of rugby.

Timaru-born France prop Uini Atonio is also with La Rochelle.