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."

  • Champions Cup Fixtures
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FixtureDetails
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European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , December 5
Montpellier vs Bath19:45
Saturday , December 6
Sale vs Saracens13:00
Munster vs Clermont Auvergne17:30
Ulster vs Scarlets19:45
Benetton Treviso vs Northampton13:00
Ospreys vs Racing Metro 9215:15
Sunday , December 7
Castres vs Wasps13:00
Harlequins vs Leinster15:15
Leicester vs Toulon17:30
Toulouse vs Glasgow15:15
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Recent Results
FixtureDetails
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European Rugby Champions Cup
Sunday , October 26
Clermont Auvergne 35 - 3 Sale Sharks
Castres 16 - 21 Leinster
Wasps 16 - 23 Harlequins
Benetton Treviso 10 - 26 Racing Metro 92
Saturday , October 25
Bath 19 - 21 Toulouse
Montpellier 13 - 15 Glasgow
Ulster 13 - 23 Toulon
Northampton 34 - 6 Ospreys
Scarlets 15 - 3 Leicester
Friday , October 24
Munster 14 - 3 Saracens
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Pool 1
European Rugby Champions Cup Table
PosTeamPPts
1Munster28
2Clermont Auvergne26
3Saracens25
4Sale Sharks21
Pool 2
European Rugby Champions Cup Table
PosTeamPPts
1Harlequins28
2Leinster28
3Wasps22
4Castres21
Pool 3
European Rugby Champions Cup Table
PosTeamPPts
1Toulon28
2Scarlets24
3Leicester Tigers24
4Ulster21
Pool 4
European Rugby Champions Cup Table
PosTeamPPts
1Glasgow Warriors29
2Toulouse28
3Montpellier22
4Bath21
Pool 5
European Rugby Champions Cup Table
PosTeamPPts
1Racing Metro Paris28
2Northampton25
3Ospreys25
4Treviso20