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Challenge Cup: the Sharks-Clermont semi-final will ring hollow in London

ASM Clermont Auvergne faces the South African province of the Sharks based in Durban this Saturday (1:30 p.

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Challenge Cup: the Sharks-Clermont semi-final will ring hollow in London

ASM Clermont Auvergne faces the South African province of the Sharks based in Durban this Saturday (1:30 p.m.) in the semi-final of the Challenge Cup. The South Africans, who finished first in Pool 1 (ASM were second in Pool 3), have home advantage for this decisive match, but they cannot host it at Kings Park Stadium. The EPCR had in fact announced, upon the integration of the South African franchises last year, that these teams could host in the round of 16 and the quarter-finals on their land, but not from the semi-finals.

This Franco-South African semi-final will therefore take place - at the Sharks' choice - at the Stoop Stadium in London, the Harlequins venue located next to Twickenham. And the stadium should ring very hollow, the South African supporters not being able to make the trip (14,000 kilometers!) and the ASM fans are not hypermotivated to reach the suburbs of London either. According to information from La Montagne, only 2,000 places have been sold out of the 15,000 that the Stoop can accommodate.

As for the Auvergne club, we prefer to joke about it. As Julien Laïrle, the Clermont forwards coach, confided to our colleagues: “We asked our two Englishmen (the kicking coach Ian Vass and the video analyst Joe Larkin, Editor's note) to fill out the stadium. The club gave them 50% of the tickets. Now it's up to them. There was a raffle organized. It’s up to our English to fill the stadium.” A snub announced for the EPCR which organizes the now intercontinental competitions...

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