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A former Ireland lock has been handed a lengthy contract extension in France

Jeremy Davidson has been working wonders on a low budget at Aurillac in the Pro D2.

FORMER IRELAND AND Lions second row Jeremy Davidson has signed a new five-year contract as head coach of French club Aurillac, a deal which ties the 41-year-old to the Pro D2 outfit until 2021.

Jeremy Davidson Ireland v Australia Lansdowne Road, Dublin. 23/11/1996 Jeremy Davidson [green headband] in action for Ireland in 1996. Source: © Billy Stickland/INPHO

The length of Davidson’s new deal speaks volumes for the fine work he has done in the Cantal department since joining Aurillac in 2011.

Having played for Ireland 32 times and excelled for the Lions on the 1997 tour of South Africa and 2001′s visit to Australia, Ulsterman Davidson was forced to retire from playing in 2003 due to a knee injury.

He subsequently moved into the coaching world with his club, Dungannon RFC, where he spent four seasons before joining Top 14 club Castres as forwards coach. Davidson then returned to Ulster as assistant coach in 2009.

The desire to secure a professional head coaching job saw Davidson accept an offer from the low-budget Aurillac in 2011 and he has been working wonders ever since.

Davidson came extremely close to being appointed forwards coach at Clermont last season, narrowly missing out to former Leinster man Jono Gibbes in the final decision.

Undeterred, Davidson has led Aurillac to another superb season in the Pro D2, with the club currently sitting seventh in the league, level on points with fifth-placed Albi and sixth-placed Biarritz, who are coached by Eddie O’Sullivan.

Jeremy Davidson 31/8/2010 Davidson has proven himself in the coaching world. Source: Darren Kidd

Just two rounds of the regular season remain in the Pro D2, and a top-five finish would see Aurillac advance into the promotion play-offs, where they would be two games away from the Top 14.

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Davidson’s achievements are remarkable for the fact that Aurillac operate on a budget in the region of €4.36million, among the lowest in the Pro D2. In contrast, O’Sullivan’s Biarritz have a budget of just over €11million.

Davidson has consistently wrung highly competitive performances from Aurillac despite their lack of resources, with his intelligent recruitment standing out. Similarly, an expansive, exciting approach to the game has brought good results.

Davidson’s current squad includes Irishmen Conor Gaston and Paddy McAllister, both formerly of Ulster, as well as ex-Munster lock Brian Hayes.

Gaston was on the scoresheet in last weekend’s impressive five-try 52-14 win over fellow promotion hopefuls Perpignan at Stade Jean-Alric, when hooker Manu Leiataua scored the stunning try below.

Source: DaviD ChuckyRMC/YouTube

That effort gives some sense of the way Aurillac approach the game under Davidson’s coaching, and highlights one of the reasons the Irishman has proved so popular in the sparsely-populated Cantal department.

This new five-year deal keeps Davidson right where Aurillac want him to be, although it seems probable that there is a clause in the contract that would allow the head coach to take a top-tier job if offered.

Davidson’s continuing success with Aurillac is likely to draw more and more interest from wealthier clubs in the coming seasons.

Georgian centre Sharikadze learning his trade from two ex-Ireland internationals

Jeremy Davidson punching above his weight in France’s Pro D2

Cork man Hayes learning the trade from Davidson in France

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Murray Kinsella

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