Ellis Genge ‘all over’ Clermont atmosphere as Leicester chase European glory

The Tigers face a tough assignment against the French heavyweights.

Leicester captain Ellis Genge is relishing tackling French side Clermont Auvergne
Leicester captain Ellis Genge is relishing tackling French side Clermont Auvergne

Leicester captain Ellis Genge is relishing the prospect of playing at one of French rugby’s most imposing venues when Tigers continue their quest for European glory.

With a Gallagher Premiership play-off place secured four games inside the distance, Leicester resume Heineken Champions Cup business on Sunday.

And Clermont Auvergne will be waiting for them at Stade Marcel-Michelin in a classic Anglo-French heavyweight showdown.

Clermont Auvergne fans generate a spectacular atmosphere at Stade Marcel-Michelin (David Davies/PA)

The last-16 first-leg encounter promises to be a pulsating affair.

Although twice European champions Leicester won there in 2006, they lost on their last three visits including a quarter-final clash eight years ago.

For England prop Genge, France’s Massif Central offers a new rugby experience, leading the Tigers out at a ground where Clermont’s European pedigree was forged.

Clermont featured in three European Cup finals in five seasons between 2013 and 2017 and although they lost them all, few teams have emerged unscathed from a trip to their compact but richly atmospheric 19,000-capacity home.

Their fans, their passion, I am all over that

Leicester captain Ellis Genge

“I got asked earlier this season what stadium would I want to play at in France, and I said Clermont,” Genge said.

“Their fans, their passion, I am all over that.

“It reminds me of our home ground. I love it. I think it is amazing. What a stadium, and I can’t wait to get over there and get involved.

“I’ve played at Bordeaux, Toulon, Racing, and obviously the France game (with England) the other day in Paris – what an atmosphere that was.”

This season’s European Cup home and away format means Clermont will head to Mattioli Woods Welford Road in next week’s return fixture.

A quarter-final place is the prize, and it appears that Tigers’ England fly-half George Ford is on course to be involved.

Ford suffered an ankle injury during Leicester’s Premiership victory at Exeter nine days ago, going off in the first half.

George Ford suffered an ankle injury during Leicester’s victory over Exeter (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Tigers head coach Steve Borthwick said: “He’s doing well. I said at the time that he was very positive, and he continues to be really positive.

“This adventure we are on in Europe, it’s brilliant. We went away to Bordeaux, which was an incredible atmosphere, then we went off to Connacht.

“Now, we go to Clermont, which we are all excited about in what is a fantastic competition.

“It is not every week you get to go and play in places like Clermont. We are learning a lot, and we are eager to get going on Sunday.”

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