Azema to quit Clermont at end of season for Montpellier

Toulouse (France) (AFP) –


Franck Azema will step down as head coach of Clermont at the end of the season, the Top 14 club announced on Monday, in order to take up the same role at Montpellier.

Azema, whose contract was due to run until 2023, has been with the club for 11 seasons, first as assistant to Vern Cotter and then, since 2014, as head coach.

"While he had two years of contract left, Franck Azema chose to give it up by asking to be released from his commitment at the end of this season," Clermont said in a statement.

"Since Franck's decision is to embark on a new project, for personal reasons, it is in no one's interest to block the situation and waste time," said club president Jean-Michel Guillon in the statement.

With Azema at the helm, Clermont won their second French championship title in 2017 and reached two other finals.

He also guided them to two European Champions Cup finals, losing to Toulon in 2015 and Saracens two years later, and the 2019 European Challenge Cup final in which they defeated La Rochelle.

Clermont are currently fourth in the Top 14 after a 73-3 thrashing of Bayonne at the weekend.

"We have full confidence in Franck's total commitment in the coming months and know that he will be keen to close this Clermont chapter in the best possible way by adding a new line to the club's honours board," said Guillon.

The 49-year-old will take over the reins at Montpellier where former France boss Philippe Saint-Andre has been in charge on a temporary basis since the January sacking of Xavier Garbajosa.