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Top 14 preview: Clemont Auvergne

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ByEurosport
14/08/2010 at 11:33 | Updated 14/08/2010 at 11:36

Last year's champions, Vern Cotter's men must now live up to their new status. Confirming their supremacy will be the next step.

Full club name: Association Sportive Montferrand Clermont Auvergne
Founded: 1911
Stadium: Stade Marcel-Michelin
President: Rene Fontes
Coaches: Vern Cotter - Franck Azema
2010 finish: Champions (3rd in the league)
Titles: 1

The goal: Defending the title

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After losing four consecutive finals they finally won the title of Champions of France by beating Perpignan 19-6 last year. Having finally defeated the jinx, their young players have started to flourish at youth level. Their president, Rene Fontes, has no intention of stopping there. "Last year we did not know the thrill of victory," he said, "Except for our success in the European Challenge Cup. We tasted it truly for the first time on May 29, and I dare make the comparison that victory is like a drug."

The star: Morgan Parra

The challenge of replacing Pierre Mignoni at scrum-half was not an easy one. But Parra demonstrated his talent, especially in the second half of the season. He started shakily in the first three months but last season he managed to force himself to become indispensable at number 9. Nowadays he seems to be the leader of the pack of forwards and has also emerged as an excellent kicker, alternating with Brock James in the final stages of the season. Now 22, he must continue these excellent performances of last year.

The player to follow: Jason White

The former captain of Scotland has not played in official competition for eight months after a double leg fracture. As a result he could not completely enjoy the side's triumph last year. The Brit is vengeful and will work hard to find his place in a well-stocked pack. Will he make the grade? At 32 and following such a severe injury he will find it tough, but Vern Cotter will be counting on the Scot to play a key role during the big matches.

The painful departure: Seremaia Bai

He had flashes of genius but the conclusion is clear: Clermont have not lost a single invaluable player. Bai's departure is the only one which could possibly disturb the champions of France. Although the Fijian was not the most powerful, he made some good contributions to the club, including stepping in for James at fly-half or Gonzalo Canale at centre. The impact player has decided to increase his playing time at Castres.

Transfers:

Departures: Bai (Castres), Cabello (Brive, loan), Samson (Toulon)

Arrivals: Paulo (Crusaders, New Zealand), Lauaki (Waikato, New Zealand)

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