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Finally, better injury news for Clermont

By James Harrington
Morgan Parra playing for Clermont

Top 14 champions Clermont look to have turned an injury corner heading into the crucial fifth round of the Champions Cup.


A week after teenage winger Samuel Ezeala suffered a horrific head injury in the Top 14 defeat to Racing 92, last season’s losing European finalists have welcomed centre Remi Lamerat and hooker Benjamin Kayser back from injury.

“It’s good to see Remi back in the squad, and Benjamin too,” head coach Franck Azema told journalists this week as his squad prepares to meet Pool 2 bottom club Northampton at Franklin’s Gardens.

For a while, Clermont faced the distinct possibility of having only six backs registered with Champions Cup organisers for the weekend’s trip. But, three-quarter stocks are improving, with Lamerat’s return, and Isaia Toeava avoiding sanction after being cited for a dangerous tackle on Geoffrey Palis in the New Year’s Eve defeat to Castres.

The club also quietly registered Luke McAlister on its European squad list this week. The former All Black has not played for the club since breaking a bone in his hand in his second match after joining the club as a medical joker in early December. Azema refused to confirm whether McAlister was in the frame for the Northampton game, saying only: “Either this weekend or next weekend, we hope to get him back.”

Meanwhile, Fijian-born France international Noa Nakaitaci – who has been out with a knee-injury since April – is set to train with the rest of the squad on Monday, Azema said. “There’s been clear improvement in the past two weeks,” he added.

Scottish international Greig Laidlaw, too, is expected to return from a broken leg ahead of the Six Nations, which kicks off in less than a month.


Despite the returnees, Clermont’s injury list remains horrifyingly long.

Samuel Ezeala, Camille Lopez, Wesley Fofana, Aurelien Rougerie, David Strettle, Sitaleki Timani, Charlie Cassang, Patricio Fernandez, Damian Penaud and Alivereti Raka among the backs filling up chairs in the infirmary.

They are joined by forwards Loni Uhila, Judicael Cancoriet, and Peceli Yato.


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finn 6 hours ago
Why the world needs a reverse Lions tour

I think there’s a lot of reasons this wouldn’t work, but if we’re just proposing fun things how about a “World Series” held the june/july following a world cup. The teams competing each four years would be: the current world champions The Pacific Islands The British & Irish Lions The World XV Barbarians FC to ensure all teams are fairly evenly matched, the current world champions would name their squad first; then The Pacific Islands would name next, and would be able to select any pacific qualified players not selected by the world champions, including players already “captured” by non-pacific nations who would otherwise have been eligible for selection (eg. Bundee Aki); the Lions would select next; and then The World XV and Barbarians FC would be left to fight over anyone not selected. Some people will point out that 5 teams is too many for a mid-year round robin, particularly as it would be nice to have a final as well; and they would be right! But because we’re just having fun here we’re going to innovate an entirely new format for rugby, where the round robin is played in one stadium over the course of one day, with each game lasting just 40 minutes with no half time or change of ends. The round robin decides the seedings for the knockouts, which are contested by all 5 teams in one stadium over the course of one day, according to the following schedule: Knockout Round 1: seed 5 v seed 4 (contested over 1 half of indetermined length, finishing when one team reaches 7 points) ~ 10 minute break ~ Quarter Final: winner of Round 1 v seed 3 (contested over 1 half of indetermined length, finishing when one team reaches 7 points) ~ 10 minute break ~ Semi Final: winner of Quarter Final v seed 2 (contested over 1 half of indetermined length, finishing when one team reaches 7 points) ~ 10 minute break ~ Final: winner of Semi Final v seed 1 (played as a standard 80 minute rugby match) for the round robin, teams would name a 15 man starting lineup and a 16 man bench. Substitutions during games can only be made for injuries, but any number of substitutions can be made between games. The same rules apply for the finals, except that we return to having a regular 8 man bench, and would allow substitutions as normal during the 80 minute final.

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