ASM, at the rendezvous of the final stages after a chaotic season, will play, on the lawn of the UBB, the first play-off away from its history.
Vern Cotter’s great adventure with Clermont ended in 2014 with a home defeat in the Top 14 play-off against Castres. End of a golden period for ASM who won the first Brennus shield in its history in 2010. What will happen to Franck Azéma, who will leave the Auvergne club at the end of the season? Each match can now be the last for the technician from Auvergne, who allowed the Clermontois to raise their second shield of Brennus in 2017. Facing the Union Bordaux-Bègles, a novice at this level of the competition, Clermont is a regular figure : over the last 13 seasons, the Jaunards have only missed the final stages of the Top 14 once. It was in 2018 after an annus horribilis, marked by an impressive cascade of injuries, in the wake of the 2017 title.
This year, the ASM has experienced many upheavals, several poor performances but has always remained at the forefront. “We’ve been in the top six all season long, reminds Franck Azéma. Even if, until the last day, it was hard to qualify. Our goal was to be in the six to be able to play the finals. Now we will try to participate as best as possible.This match against UBB will be a first for the Auvergne. Since the establishment of the play-offs during the 2009-2010 season, ASM has never played an away game at this level of the competition. Only three Michelin dams, for two victories (2010 against Racing 92, 2011 against Biarritz) and a setback, that of 2014 against CO. Otherwise, the Clermontois managed the feat of qualifying six times directly for the last four.
We are coming out of a complicated season. A lot of things made the group have a hard time, they were pushed around, but we found the resources to stay on their feet.
But not in 2020-2021. “We are coming out of a complicated season, unambiguously recognizes Morgan Parra. A lot of things made the group go through difficult times, they were jostled, but we found the resources to stay upright and we are still here, ready to enter these final stages with as many chances as Bordeaux to do well. figure.“The experience is on the side of the Jaunards, who can count on their Parra-Lopez hinge to counter the Girondins. The offensive strike force is also on the side of Auvergne: with 830 points, ASM finished the regular phase with the best attack, ahead of Toulouse (767) and Racing (757) and… the UBB (740) .
In Chaban-Delmas, which will host only 5,000 people (including 700 Clermont supporters), Morgan Parra and his teammates will not be disoriented, having played there many times, especially in the European Cup. “We must find the right balance between pleasure, relaxation and pressure but also between the experience of these moments and the freshness that can bring us young people who rise and grow, emphasizes Franck Azéma. These are the best moments of the season, we are all convinced of that.»And Morgan Parra:«When it’s full, it’s an advantage to play at home, it grows behind. There, everything is doable, we have as many chances as Bordeaux to win it.“
Five games without a win against UBB
ASM has not been as domineering this season as it has in the past. The Auvergne club has regularly experienced failures, especially in conquest, whether in turn in touch or in scrum. More worrying, the formation of Franck Azéma regularly missed several major events (Toulouse, Munster). And the Auvergnats have failed to beat the Girondins in their last five confrontations (4 defeats, 1 draw). UBB is a playful team that regularly manages to thwart ASM… “We are a historic club and we have often failed at the foot of the trophy, recalls the opener Camille Lopez who is on his guard. Bordeaux is the first time in the Top 14 but they are coming out of a season where they played a quarter and a half of the European Cup…“The dynamics between the two clubs would they be reversed?