Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Emotional scenes as Aurélien Rougerie calls time on extraordinary 19-year career

Former France internationalist Aurélien Rougerie, now 37-years-old, has played his final game for Clermont Auvergne before calling time on an extraordinary 19-year career.

The tall, wavy-haired wing-come-centre quickly became a mainstay in the French squad after making his debut for Les Bleus against South Africa in 2001. He turned out 76 times for his country and scored 23 tries over an 11 year period.

Born in Beaumont in the Puy de Dôme area of Auvergne to sporting parents Jacques (former French international prop) and Christine (Basketball player), Rougerie refreshingly spent his entire club career playing for Clermont Auvergne.

This loyalty to one club has become something of a rarity in the modern game and is proof that Rougerie was, and continues to be, an immensely proud Auvergnat.

It's safe to say that Clermont's form this year has been well below what was expected of them. They missed out on the play-offs and finished a lowly ninth in the standings, one place above Bordeaux Bègles.

Still, Frank Azéma's side put in a stirring final performance for Rougerie, beating Toulouse 36-26 at the Stade Marcel Michelin.

Rougerie was substituted in the 53rd minute and left the field to the sound of a rapturous applause. Better still, both his Clermont team-mates and Toulouse players formed a guard of honour.

Guard of honour as Rougerie plays final game

Rougerie also thanked the equally loyal Clermont fans for their support throughout his career, and it was clear the emotion finally hit after the final whistle.

"This evening, I am feeling a lot of emotions," Rougerie said post-match.

"I can only thank from the bottom of my heart this club, which has allowed me to grow as a player and as a man. To finish like this, in the middle of the pitch surrounded by my team-mates, old friends and especially this amazing crowd, I feel very strongly.

"But I'll say this again, see you all next year. I will still be with the club next season working with the staff. I prefer to warn the players that I intend to martyrise them after such a bad season this year! We'll return together for a great season in 2019."

Rougerie makes emotional farewell speech to Clermont fans

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