Parra: Clermont have nothing to lose in Cup final

France and Clermont scrumhalf Morgan Parra says that he is happy with his team being seen as the underdogs in the European Rugby Champions Cup final.

Clermont have a habit of imploding in crucial matches so they will start the Champions Cup final agains two-time defending champions Toulon and have been written off by many who say they have no chance.

However, the 26-year-old France international — who only returned to the starting line-up last weekend after suffering an injury at the end of February — says he is fine with that mantle as they prepare for a repeat of the 2013 final which they lost to Toulon.

Despite this and their record in the French championship final — they lost three in a row before finally securing the title in 2010 — Toulon’s Australian utility back Matt Giteau has said Clermont start as favourites.

Parra, though, is having none of that.

“No… Today, everyone sees us as the losers because we don’t have a record of winning in finals, and that is the ideal scenario for me,” said Parra, who will also have a personal duel with the rival for France’s number one spot at the World Cup Sebastien Tillous-Borde.

“We are playing the double holders of the title, who have put a series of wins in major finals together (Toulon also won the French title last season), who know what it is like to win big matches.

“In 2013, perhaps we were favourites, here it is not the case.”

“With regard to our failing to win the trophies, we are going to try and get over that and to prevail.

“But we are not nobodies. We have everything to gain and nothing to lose. We are going to give it our best shot.”

Parra, who missed the series of finals losses as he was at Bourgoin but turned in an impressive performance as Clermont ended the years of frustration with the French championship win over Perpignan, said all the fine moments they had had this season would count for nothing if they fell short on Saturday.

“Of course it is the match we can’t let pass us by, after all our efforts during the season,” he said.

“There have been moments of doubt, both individual and collective, and happy occasions like the win away over Munster (in a pool match in December) or at Saint-Etienne (the semi-final win over English side Saracens gaining revenge for a thrashing at the same stage last season).

“But a season is only worthwhile when you win something.

“For the moment it is not the case. For sure we had a great time in St Etienne a fortnight ago. But we have won nothing. We are playing Toulon, two-time champions of Europe, it is a huge occasion.

“They are the best side in Europe.”

Despite the many stars on either side the match is not a sell-out which saddens Parra.

“Twickenham is a special place when I play for France there,” said Parra, who made an immediate impact on the international scene when forming a superb halfback partnership with Francois Trinh-Duc as they won the 2010 Six Nations Grand Slam.

“However, a match between two French clubs, it doesn’t really represent anything special.

“Whats more, and it may have a hollow ring to it… the final would have had a special flavour to it if it had been against an English team.

“But I find it rather sad to play a final at Twickenham in front of 50,000 people (in a stadium that has an 82,000 capacity),” added Parra, who many would like to see reunited with Trinh-Duc for the World Cup later this year.

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