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Riviere promises Perpignan war chest in promotion bid
ESPN Staff
May 4, 2014
Perpignan's Lifeimi Mafi tries to break through the Clermont defence © Getty Images
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Perpignan president Francois Riviere has vowed to spend heavily in a bid to return his club to the Top 14 after they suffered their first relegation in 103 years.

Former champions Perpignan crashed out of France's elite competition after a narrow 25-22 defeat by Clermont, but Riviere was bullish about the prospects of making a swift return to the top flight.

Explaining the atmosphere after Saturday's defeat, Riviere told Rugbyrama: "There was great sadness in the changing room, emotion, tears, but I made a speech to the players assuring them that we would do everything to gather one of the biggest budgets of the Pro D2, probably around €10 million, to try our hardest to get back to the Top 14 as quickly as possible."

Perpignan president Francois Riviere, Clermont v Perpignan, Top 14, Michelin stadium, May 3, 2014
Perpignan president Francois Riviere © Getty Images
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With fears growing over an exodus of Perpignan's top talent - Toulon announced a move for France international lock Romain Taofifenua just minutes after Saturday's final whistle - Riviere has called on his players to clarify their intentions ahead of next season.

"I will hold a press conference on Wednesday in which I will unveil the new organisation of the club," he said. "As for the players, it is too early to say. But several things have disappointed me. I can understand that the international players wish to leave the club in order to best prepare for the 2015 World Cup but the way in which this has been expressed is not very gracious.

"It is just one example, but it has been 15 days now that I haven't heard from Sofiane Guitone either dismissing or confirming rumours that he's moving to Bordeaux. Similarly, I didn't find it very gracious the way in which [Toulon owner] Mourad Boudjellal announced the arrival of Romain Taofifenua at Toulon ten minutes after the final whistle.

"I will have a discussion with a core group of players that we would like to keep. I have talked with Bertranf Guiry in particular and even though he hasn't assured me of anything, there have been a few reassuring words and I hope he will want to be part of this project. He is one of those players you can count on for his support to pass on the DNA of the club."

Perpignan came within minutes of saving their Top 14 skins on Saturday, but ill discipline proved costly as they received three second-half yellow cards and fly-half James Hook missed several kicks from relatively easy positions.

But Riviere praised Perpignan's supporters and promised to fight on for them. "It would be unworthy to give up," he said. "I fight because Perpignan has a strong soul. I talked to some Perpignan supporters after the Clermont match and just for them, it is inconceivable to give up."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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