Planet Rugby

Clermont desperate for silverware

01st August 2014 10:04

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Clermont coach Franck Azema

Expected to win: Franck Azema

New Clermont Auvergne head coach Franck Azéma has set his sights on silverware this season after four years without a title for les Jaunards.

Azéma has stepped up to the top job this season after Vern Cotter's departure to take charge of Scotland, and he takes over as Clermont look to bounce back from a disappointing end to the 2013/14 campaign.

An inconsistent season ended in underwhelming fashion with a humbling defeat to Saracens in the Heineken Cup semi-finals, followed by the end of Clermont's 77-match unbeaten home record in a Top 14 play-off defeat to Castres.

The offseason saw a great deal of change both in the coaching staff, with Jono Gibbes coming in to work alongside Azéma, and in the squad, with a number of new faces arriving.

And now Azéma insists it's time to getting back to winning titles, with their last success coming back in 2010 when they won the only Bouclier de Brennus of their history, however he admits the competition will be very tough.

"When you are part of the coaching staff or squad of ASM Clermont Auvergne, you have the goal of winning a competition and some titles. But there are at least ten teams with the same objective," he told Rugbyrama

"There are some minimum targets: to be in the top six of the Top 14 and in the quarter-finals in Europe."

To help Azéma and Clermont achieve their objectives, there will be a number of new faces in the squad to freshen up an aging group.

In the backline Wales and Lions centre Jonathan Davies will look to establish himself as Aurélien Rougerie's long-term successor, while World Cup-winning All Black Zac Guildford will be charged with replacing the departed Siviveni Sivivatu.

Long-time Bath full-back Nick Abendanon will also be expected to fill the boots of Lee Byrne as he and Jean-Marcellin Buttin fight for the starting spot.

The demise of Perpignan allowed Clermont to pick up two of the rising stars of the French game, second row Sébastien Vahaamahina and fly-half Camille Lopez, who endured frustrating seasons last term.

Despite the arrivals, the offseason has been most notable for the machete attack on three veterans of the squad, Rougerie, Julien Pierre and Benjamin Kayser, but Azéma believes the squad has moved past that incident.

"We've done what was necessary," he added.

"Both with regards to the emergency and helping the players with a psychologist. The work has been done and from what the players have said, they have moved on."

  • Top 14 Fixtures
Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Top 14
Saturday , November 29
Toulon vs Clermont Auvergne14:45
Lyon vs Montpellier18:30
La Rochelle vs Bayonne18:30
Castres vs Racing Metro Paris18:30
Oyonnax vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
Toulouse vs Grenoble20:45
Sunday , November 30
Stade Francais vs Brive18:00
Friday , December 19
Bayonne vs Bordeaux-Begles18:00
Saturday , December 20
Toulon vs Lyon18:00
Racing Metro Paris vs La Rochelle18:00
More Top 14 fixtures
  • Top 14 Results
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Top 14
Saturday , November 8
Oyonnax 37 - 9 La Rochelle
Clermont Auvergne 51 - 9 Stade FrancaisClermont Auvergne vs Stade Francais Report
Grenoble 34 - 30 Lyon
Bordeaux-Begles 20 - 21 Toulouse
Castres 22 - 14 ToulonCastres vs Toulon Report
Racing Metro Paris 27 - 10 Bayonne
Friday , November 7
Montpellier 10 - 25 BriveMontpellier vs Brive Report
Sunday , November 2
Toulon 61 - 28 Grenoble
Saturday , November 1
Lyon 17 - 41 Toulouse
Racing Metro Paris 17 - 21 Oyonnax
More Top 14 results
  • Top 14 Table
Overall 2014
Top 14 Table
PosTeamPPts
1Clermont Auvergne1136
2Toulon1133
3Stade Francais1131
4Racing Metro Paris1129
5Bordeaux-Begles1128