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Jeremy Davidson poised for D-day in promotion battle

By Jonathan Bradley

While Mark McCall has been getting plenty of deserved plaudits lately, another Ulsterman is on the verge of a significant coaching achievement today.

Jeremy Davidson, the former Ulster, Ireland and Lions lock who was a team-mate of McCall and worked on the same ticket at Castres, is only one game away from taking Aurillac to the Top 14.

Working with a diminished budget to many of his rivals, victory in today's Pro D2 promotion final would be the highlight of what is an impressive body of work put together by the 42-year-old since leaving an assistant role at Ulster to take up the reins in south-central France in 2011.

Standing in his way are Bayonne, who were relegated only last season and boasted playing talent like Joe Rockoko and Mike Phillips in the recent past, but Davidson never doubted his side would be one of the last two standing.

"I knew we had a team that can do it," he said.

"It takes many things to go your way, the opponents, the injuries, the fatigue, because the Pro D2 season is very long ."

A big day ahead for a former Ulster favourite, this is an equally significant time for the province's stars of the future with four players from Kingspan Stadium selected in the Ireland squad for the upcoming World Rugby under-20 Championship.

With their pool opener against Wales on Tuesday looming, one of the quartet Jacob Stockdale is hoping to cap off a memorable season with a strong showing.

He said: "I'm not sure if there are the same recognisable names as there was in the team last year, but there's a real strong kind of team ethos there."

Belfast Telegraph

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