Friday 23 March 2018

Peter Bills: Iron will of Clermont can hurt Leinster

Peter Bills

They come from a bleak, icy-cold location high up in the mountains of central France. Getting anywhere from there requires hours of slow, tortuous travel by bus.

Up here in one of the oldest cities in France, the locals of Clermont Ferrand are a hardy type. They demonstrate a rugged demeanour both to the hostile elements and strangers.

Clermont Ferrand has a population of around 140,000 and it is the headquarters of France's mighty Michelin tyre factory. It is Michelin's money, constantly pumped into the club together with rich backing from the local town and its council, that makes Clermont Auvergne rugby club a wealthy outfit. This season, their budget was €18.9m.

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