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'Whatever happens, this will remain an episode of amateurism': Clermont slam Saracens

The clubs meet in their Champions Cup refix this evening but the visitors aren’t happy.

Allianz Park pictured ahead of today's rescheduled game.
Allianz Park pictured ahead of today's rescheduled game.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

CLERMONT AUVERGNE HAVE hit out at the ‘absurd’ situation surrounding their postponed Champions Cup clash with Saracens at Allianz Park, describing the saga as an ‘episode of amateurism.’

Last season’s two finalists were due to meet in London on Sunday but the match was called off due to hazardous conditions around the stadium which, Saracens say, would have seriously compromised the safety of the players, fans and spectators.

The Pool 2 fixture will now be played this evening at 5.30pm, but Clermont have complained they were not included in negotiations between Saracens and the tournament organisers, EPCR. The French club accused them of ‘messing about’ their supporters and treating them like ‘toys’.

Furthermore, Clermont say they were told the game would be rearranged for 2pm on Monday and were only informed of the change to a later kick off on Sunday evening.

“The weekend should have been a rugby celebration between the two European finalists; whatever happens on the Allianz Park pitch this afternoon, it will remain yet another episode of the amateurism that sometimes affects our sport,” the club statement read.

“Without consulting any members of the staff (and with no official information) throughout the day … we were eventually informed by phone by a member of the EPCR at about 5pm that the match would take place on Monday 11 December at 2pm.

“We were told at 11pm that the game which was scheduled for 2pm had been moved to 5.30pm local time, with no way of telling the players who were already back in their rooms.”

Clermont Auvergne fans before the match Clermont fans arrive at Allianz Park ahead of tonight's refix. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

The rearranged fixture was originally meant to be behind closed doors due to ‘health and safety concerns’ but a Saracens statement this morning said the game would be open to spectators.

The statement continued: “The match was initially set to be played behind closed doors, disappointing our fans yet again who then decided to return home to France the following morning having in some cases slept on the floor due to the lack of available rooms.

“The latest information is that the game could take place in front of supporters, hence Saracens’ interest in moving the game to later in the evening, refusing the proposition of the EPCR (2pm kick-off). In the end, for about a dozen centimetres of snow, the organisation of the game has bordered on the ridiculous and the absurd.”

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Saracens beat Clermont 28-17 in last year’s final and hold a one-point advantage over the Top 14 side in Pool 2 after two fixtures.

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