In what has already been a glorious season for Irish rugby, Leinster get the chance to demonstrate today that the nation’s provinces have now fully made the adjustments required to cope with the imposition of English and French administrative might, by bringing the European Champions Cup to the Emerald Isle for the first time.

The occasion will be historic in itself, the final staged outside European rugby’s traditional boundaries in a country that is not allowed to have a Champions Cup representative at Bilbao’s 53,000-plus capacity San Mames Stadium.

A statement of confidence bordering on arrogance in the sport’s attractiveness to spectators this could almost be interpreted as rubbing the noses of Spanish rugby lovers in what they are missing out on.

However, a more optimistic take on that might be to draw the lesson from a day that also will see a very different annual European gathering take place across the Iberian Peninsula. This week has, after all, seen semi-finals take place in Lisbon to decide which 20 representatives of 37 nations would get to squawk, chirp and howl their way to an Andy Warhol moment in tonight’s Eurovision Song Contest. Meanwhile the ‘big five’ of France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK – so-called because of the spending power of their broadcasters – are given automatic places in the final.

They may be a different five from the UK-heavy quintet that have forever ruled rugby’s roost, but for all that they give themselves that competitive advantage, they rarely win, demonstrating the wider benefits of opening up the contest to the whole of Europe.

Along with Georgia and Romania, Spain probably has the strongest case for regretting the closed shop of European rugby and the complicity of Celtic countries in that shameful anti-competitive behaviour, should dilute any sense of grievance at the way the English and French, fed up with Irish dominance, forced change to the way European rugby’s top club event was run four years ago.

As was reported when the change was confirmed the plotting began the last time Leinster won the trophy six years ago, the BBC stating then that: “Unrest over the future of the Heineken Cup began in June 2012, when the English and French clubs announced they would quit, unhappy with qualification, revenue distribution and governance. Soon after, Premiership Rugby signed a TV deal with BT, while ERC extended its deal with Sky. In October 2013, the English and French clubs announced they were setting up the Rugby Champions Cup, which had the support of the Welsh regions.”

Replacing a carelessly assembled format that had been profoundly unfair, annually rewarding the teams in the weakest of six four-team pools with the inclusion of only the two best runners-up in the knockout stages, but highly effective in terms of generating drama in the final round of pool matches, much more consideration was cynically applied to the new format, to the extent of the English and French telling the Celts and Italians how to run their own domestic tournament.

They had realised that up until then the Irish in particular had treated the Celtic League/Pro12 as no more than a development competition, lengthily resting leading players in the early part of the season as they recovered from tours, as well as ahead of and during Test windows, while the English and French were knocking lumps out of their best talent as their commercially-minded owners desperately sought to ensure that their clubs would not be relegated from their respective top flights.

By turning the Pro12 into a full-blown qualifying tournament, they could ensure that the Irish and Welsh were doing likewise.

The outcome was instantaneous as, having had what was by then an almost standard representation of three teams in the quarter-finals of the last Heineken Cup in 2013-14, as they stretched their limited playing resources to compete properly on two fronts, Ireland failed to get a single representative into the first ever Champions Cup quarter-finals in 2014-15.

It was the first time that had ever happened, yet it was repeated the following season, at which point it began to look as if there was almost a finality to the way English rugby had bullied the Celts once more, with their national team dominating the international scene under new head coach Eddie Jones.

By last year, however, there was evidence that, driven by the self-confident ingenuity that sets the Irish apart from their Celtic cousins, their leading provinces had once again found a way of competing in Europe and, with Connacht and the Scarlets having followed Glasgow in claiming the Pro12 title, if that meant sacrificing some competitiveness in the domestic competition by merely doing enough to qualify for the following year’s Champions Cup, so be it.

Leinster and Munster duly thrashed Wasps and Toulouse, respectively, in the Champions Cup quarter-finals and while both lost their semi-finals, it seemed clear that they had once again worked out how best to distribute their limited playing resources.

With Johnny Sexton having replaced Brian O’Driscoll as their talisman since they last won this competition, three-time champions Leinster consequently go into today’s final against as favourites against Racing 92, albeit the Paris-based team is making its second appearance in the final in three years.

Either way, with only defending champions Saracens having represented their country in this year’s quarter-finals where they were summarily despatched by Sexton and co in Dublin, when set alongside Ireland’s ‘Grand Slam’ victory this season, the evidence is that the short-term gain England’s moneymen achieved, has been addressed by Ireland’s sportsmen.

With encouraging signs that Wales is finally beginning to get its house in order, with the Scarlets leading the way and a hint of Scottish competitiveness at last, with two teams qualifying for the Champions Cup for the first time, this could prove to have been a watershed season for European rugby with the next step being to introduce some competitive fairness at the next level up by opening up its international arena.