7 Jun, 15:39
ERC can confirm that the Federation Française de Rugby (FFR) has withdrawn its application to host the 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals, due to the ongoing uncertainty regarding the availability of the Stade de France.
Guy Merceron, the club's international fly half, declared of Saturday's showdown with NEC Harlequins: "Apart from remaining in the French elite, winning the Parker Pen Challenge Cup is now our primary objective.
"Because, if we win the match, it will enable us to save our season by going through to next year's Heineken Cup.
"It won't be easy because Harlequins are a good team and they are playing close to home so they will have a lot of support. But we are determined to win in order to wipe out the domestic problems we've had this season.
"We have done well in the Parker Pen Challenge Cup this season, coming through over Saracens, Newcastle Falcons and Bath Rugby. We feel less pressure against English sides who like to play the ball a lot more than in the French championship. Our standard of rugby has been significantly higher in Europe than in domestic competition.
"The matches are more disciplined and the referees act with more rigour - in fact, everything is put in place for the games to produce as much entertaining rugby as possible.
"It's true that, so far, we have always had a return leg on our home soil which has helped over the two legs and this time it is just one knock-out match. That means it will be a tough challenge but we are ready for it.
"The team has begun to believe in itself and, even though we are now in the play-downs in the championship, we are starting to build on our capabilities and focus on our strengths.
"Along with the fact that a win guarantees a place in the Heineken Cup, we would just love to bring a title back to Clermont Ferrand. It would be a personal satisfaction for me and for the whole team."
MONTFERRAND v NEC HARLEQUINS
Sat 22nd May - 12:00 pm
Montferrand: A Floch; A Rougerie, R Chanal, T Marsh (capt), S Kuzbik; G Merceron, P Mignoni; C Soulette, O Azam, D Attoub, H Louw, T Privat, M Raynaud, O Magne, E Vermeulen
Replacements: R Cockerill, L Emmanuelli, E Pearce, A Audebert, M Dieude, J Moreau, S Viars,
NEC Harlequins: G Duffy; G Harder, W Greenwood, M Deane, U Monye; P Burke, S Bemand; M Worsley, T Fuga, J Dawson, S Miall, J Evans, P Sanderson, A Vos (capt), T Diprose
Replacements: J Hayter, C Jones, J Leonard, B Davison, L Sherriff, S Keogh, A Dunne,
Referee: Nigel Whitehouse (Wales)