There has been a lot of talk ahead of Saturday’s European Rugby Champions Cup final about the Scottish connections in the Saracens camp, but there is also one in the Clermont Auvergne ranks.

The likes of Jim Hamilton, Kelly Brown, Duncan Taylor and Sean Maitland may well be involved on the pitch at BT Murrayfield for the English outfit.

And masterminding the Clermont effort will be proud Jedburgh man Neil McIlroy.

He is the Rugby Manager at the French giants, dealing with all the off field issues to make sure that the coaching staff and players have everything they need in place to secure the victory come match day.

The 49-year-old has been with the club for over a decade and believes that the current squad at Clermont is one of the best he has seen.

“I have really enjoyed this year with the guys, especially this European journey to the final,” he said.

“Every year at a pro club like this nowadays there are comings and goings each year and you are never quite sure how the guys are going to click, but right from pre-season last summer this bunch seems to have a good dynamic.

“There are guys in there who have a lot of international caps, foreign players and young ones coming through, but they all get on and work hard to get results.

“For me as a proud Scot to be able to bring Clermont to BT Murrayfield is very exciting for me and my family and friends.

“It is such a great stadium and I was over a few weeks ago having a look around and it is a special place.

“I was lucky enough to play for the Borders there a number of years ago, but to take a team there in a European final with family and friends there to see me will be something else.”

In the summer Scotland scrum-half Greig Laidlaw is making the move from Gloucester to Clermont – and McIlroy believes his fellow Jed man can be a hit in France.

“I am delighted that Greig is coming over, I think he is such an intelligent player,” he stated.

“His kicking game, tactical skills and leadership will really bring something to the squad here.

“It is funny how things work because when he was a young player I remember watching him come through the ranks at Jed and now we are teaming up here.”

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