Greig Laidlaw says he is keen to extend stay at Clermont

Scrum-half, who announced his retirement from intenational rugby earlier this week, is hoping club can fit him under the salary cap

Greig Laidlaw in action for ASM Clermont Auvergne versus La Rochelle in last year's European Challenge Cup Final. Image: © Craig Watson -
Greig Laidlaw in action for ASM Clermont Auvergne versus La Rochelle in last year's European Challenge Cup Final. Image: © Craig Watson -

GREIG LAIDLAW has confirmed that he wants to remain with Clermont Auvergne next season. The 34-year-old announced his retirement from international rugby last week, but is not yet ready to hang up his boots. And he is keen to extend his French adventure by at least one more season if the club can find a solution to a talent bottleneck.  

Ahead of Clermont’s Sunday night Top 14 match at Toulon, Laidlaw spoke to French media about why he had called time on a Scotland career that saw him earn 76 caps.

“It was a difficult decision, but it was the right moment for me, my family and for the team,” said the Borderer. “This decision will allow me to help ASM (Clermont) 100 percent this year because mentally it’s tough being involved on two levels.”

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Laidlaw’s future depends largely on what happens with French international Morgan Parra who has stated that he wants to leave the club but is under contract until 2022. However, he has not yet finalised his next move and is still on the Clermont wage bill. A further complication is the fact that Sebastien Bézy will join next season from Toulouse where he has lost out to rising star Antoine Dupont in the battle for the No 9 jersey. The combination of three highly-paid scrum-halves raises the issue of the salary cap. It seems unlikely that Clermont can afford to have all three men on the books.

In a separate interview, Laidlaw confirmed his desire to remain in France, but insisted that his focus is resolutely on performing well over the coming months as Clermont bid to go one better than last season when they lost to Toulouse in the Top 14 final.

“Nothing has been finalised yet. It’s really up to the club to make its decision,” he explained. “From my side, I can only do two things: confirm that I’m happy here and want to stay, and to play well on the pitch. I believe I’m still capable of playing at a high level for a big club. Physically, I’m well and I’m happy playing in this team.”

He is fully aware of the potential blockage, and the implications for game time, if there are three high quality scrum-halves jostling for the number 9 shirt. Laidlaw has made his plan clear and now awaits a decision, although he is in no desperate rush.

“I’ve had several discussions,” he said. “Both sides have been able to explain their position. A decision has to be taken and, while I’m waiting, I’m not selling myself around. I’m waiting to hear more from Clermont.

“The club has confirmed that Morgan will possibly be leaving. That’s not really my business, it’s up to the club to deal with that and to look at the squad for next season. From my point of view I want to stay and the club knows that. I’m now waiting. But I can’t wait for ever.”

Franck Azéma, the Clermont coach is keeping all options open, but is keen to retain Laidlaw’s services. Azéma is conscious of the Scot’s personal attributes and the value he has added to the squad since joining the club. And he confirmed that Clermont officials are considering a contract extension.

“I didn’t know him before but his conduct since he joined ASM has been exemplary both on the pitch and in the changing room,” said the coach. “He is a competitor and has great respect for human qualities. It’s unfortunate for the Scotland team to not have a lad like him – over and above his sporting qualities, he’s a great guy.”

Greig Laidlaw announces retirement from international rugby

About Colin Renton 296 Articles
Colin has been a freelance writer on various subjects for more than 20 years. He covers rugby at all levels but is particularly passionate about the game at grass roots. As a fluent French speaker, he has a keen interest in rugby in France and for many years has reported on the careers of Scots who have moved across the Channel. He appreciates high quality, engaging writing that is thought provoking, and hopes that some of his work fits that bill!