Planet Rugby

Clermont, the French Tigers

03rd April 2014 11:40


Benjamin Kayser Leicester 2009

Inside track on Leicester: Clermont hooker Benjamin Kayser

Clermont hooker Benjamin Kayser has echoed Leicester boss Richard Cockerill's sentiments in drawing comparisons between the two clubs.

Les Jaunards host Tigers in Saturday's much-anticipated Heineken Cup quarter-final at the French club's Marcel Michelin fortress in the Auvergne and Kayser believes the clash is made even more special by the clubs' shared values and similar identities.

Kayser spent "two wonderful years" in the East Midlands, playing 53 games in the green and red hoops of Leicester, marking a milestone in his career.

"If there is a club that resembles l'ASM in England it's Leicester," Kayser told Rugbyrama.

"With Welford Road, a veritable temple of rugby in the heart of the city, an industrial town, humble, and very proud of its rugby," added Kayser, drawing parallels with Clermont's roots.

"Their fans follow them everywhere, create a great atmosphere, but are above all very knowledgeable in rugby, like at [Parc des Sports Marcel] Michelin.

"They will applaud a good scrum or a big tackle as much as a try from 80 metres.

"It may not be a flashy club, but they work hard and are very proud of their DNA - solidarity and humility of their players. They have a very pronounced taste for combat and the ferocity of forwards battle.

"This is their trademark, it's up to us to match it.

"Richard Cockerill has great affection for Clermont, but he likes challenges. Having spoken to some of the guys after the match against England, this quarter-final was both the best and worst draws for them because they love these big matches.

"They are like us, they have a desire to win, and for that you have to beat the best."

Kayser's comments come days after Leicester Director of Rugby Cockerill, who spend two years in the number two jersey at Clermont, drew similar comparisons between the two clubs.

"Clermont's a little bit like Leicester.....people go there thinking 'it's Leicester, it's not a great place, it's a horrible place to go'. The French see Clermont in the same way," said Cockerill.

"The fans are fanatical and all work in the Michelin tyre factory. And if you've ever been in there you're glad to get out of it and watch rugby.

"It's a working-class place that loves it's sport and the noise for an 18,000 seater stadium is immense.

"The club is built around the community and is a very important part of the community. There are two things in Clermont and that's tyres and rugby."

Cockerill believes the clubs also share common ground in their wage structures.

"They're a different club to now, they tried to buy success when I was there. Now they're built on a sound foundation," he said.

"To hear a French club say they won't take a player because he's asking for too much money is unheard of.

"But Clermont have their pay structure and people have to fit into that. You buy into what Clermont do or you leave.

"Their approach to money will give them some longevity. If you go to Clermont it's for all reason - rugby and being part of the community.

"It's about what you can give, not just what you can get. People don't just go there for the money like they would to some other clubs in France.

"That's a bit like Leicester. You come to Leicester for the rugby, you don't come for the beach or the mountains or the money."

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