English clubs soften stance over Heineken Cup

In the wake of yesterday’s news that the French clubs will play in the Heineken Cup next season, not the breakaway Rugby Champions Cup, their English counterparts have, somewhat surprisingly, indicated a willingness to compete in next season’s competition, provided they have an alternative in place for the 2015/2016 season.

It is an astonishing about-turn from Premiership Rugby, who have hitherto been staunchly against any involvement in future tournaments run by ERC. However, staring down the barrel of a year with no European involvement, their stance appears to have softened.

Chief Executive Mark McCafferty last night said: “If somebody can outline what that transition would entail, how the issues would be overcome and exactly what the new structure in 2015-16 would be, then we could look at it,” he told Press Association Sport. “If we can see there is a new structure to replace ERC and we have the detail of that, then something might be feasible. At the moment it’s all very general and difficult to comment on.”

Meanwhile, LNR chairman Paul Goze defended his decision to back the Heineken Cup after previously having pledged his allegiance to the English clubs and their breakaway tournament. He insisted his organisation had not “gone into reverse gear”, claiming that they would only participate in the Heineken Cup under two conditions: firstly, the English clubs are included, and secondly, that a UEFA style body is formed for the 2015/2016 season.

One thing to remember, though, is the BT deal. How will they feel about the English clubs’ involvement in the Heineken Cup, which is to be broadcast by Sky, given that they have a deal for the rights to the Rugby Champions Cup, in whatever guise that might take?

It is believed PRL are exploring alternative options, should involvement in the Heineken Cup prove untenable, including an expanded Premiership, or forming a tournament with South African sides.

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

4 thoughts on “English clubs soften stance over Heineken Cup

  1. Hmmm, well if the current format of the H cup changes as a result of the French and English posturing I think both will think they have actually achieved what they originally asked for,so have they been shown up or actually played a blinder? A fair point here is the money on the table from BT, nobody seems to know what quantity is on offer here but ultimately if the English,Welsh and possibly some French clubs decide to play some kind of breakaway league it could be financial better for them( at the cost of the spectacle to fans)but ultimately money talks as we have seen with the extra funds thrown to the French. Still a right mess IMO

  2. 3 options that I can see

    1) Humble Pie
    Reconciliation and reintegration, stay consistent with the French that they will play if there are plans in place to replace the ERC with a new governing body (i.e. they get pretty much everything they wanted, but may not be as lucrative as the BT deal).

    2) The Cold War
    Starve them out over a long period of time, expand the premiership and look to keep as much of the English TV money as possible within England.

    3) If You Can’t Join Them, Beat Them
    Look for new partners in the SH to set up a new competition.

    I hope they go for 1) will be dismayed at 2) and not sure how feasible 3) is without a major overhaul of calendars north and south.

  3. ha ha , great spectator sport now watching these greedy buffoons having to eat humble pie and hopefully even choke on it lol. These fools have been put firmly back in their box where they belong and all of rugby should rejoice . It’s full steam ahead for the hein cup now and it will possibly grow even bigger and stronger in to the future under the assured guidance of the erc. The federation of unions is just a french get out clause and the maccaffery’s of this world have been left high and dry and should be kept there and only be allowed back on the erc terms as we can never again allow this charade to almost ruin professional rugby . The board room bullys who started this circus need to be brought to heel .They might get away with this bullying in their buisness lives but rugby must stand firm against them un like football who gave up the ghost years ago. As has other sports like boxing , cricket even formula 1 all ruined by the pin-striped suits who have no interest at all in the actual sport but are just looking to the next share holders meeting. Rugby i hope has set a good precedent now by making these vultures walk the plank , > A good days work.

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