Clermont have turned to sevens rugby to find their medical joker for the long-term injured Peceli Yato, the Top 14 club signing Tavite Veredamu, the France 7s player of Fijian origin who initially arrived in the country as an 18-year-old enlisting in the Foreign Legion.

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Yato, the 27-year-old back row who has been capped 27 times by Fiji, had a knee operation a few weeks ago, leaving Clermont with a big hole in their squad to cover ahead of the early September start of the 2020/21 Top 14 campaign.  

After losing out in a bid to sign Alex Tulou, who opted instead to join likely title rivals Lyon, Clermont turned their attentions to securing the signature of Veredamu who was under contract with the French Rugby Federation (FFR).  

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Former Clermont second row Jamie Cudmore guests on The Lockdown, the RugbyPass pandemic interview series

With the sevens circuit on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, the French sevens authorities were amenable to the Clermont approach for a dig-out and Veredamu, the 30-year-old who has played in 93 sevens matches for France, will now return to the XVs game where he last played for Nimes at Federale 1 level in 2016/17 and 2017/18. 

Veredamu, who is still expected to be part of the French squad at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, will look to keep his eye in over the winter at Clermont, a development that has very much pleased Clermont coach Franck Azema. 

“This is a win-win arrangement for all of us that quickly became obvious to each of us,” he said on the Clermont club website. “Tavite is on an education. He made the choice at 18 to leave his native country to join the Foreign Legion in France. 

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“He combines humility and rigour, and his life experiences make him a person rich in certain values that speak to us and are able to integrate into a collective.”

Standing at 1.92m and weighing 105kgs, Azema expects Veredamu to pack a physical punch when he gets going at Clermont. “His rugby qualities are what seduced us. He has a big tackle, he wins the edge, carries the ball and pushes forward. He is strong in the one against one and also has the merit of perfectly mastering French.”

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