ERC president Jean-Pierre Lux has slammed the ‘guerilla’ tactics used by the English and French clubs in the ongoing row over the future of the Heineken Cup.
The Frenchman said the two unions had been fiercely uncompromising in their demands, while at the same time rejecting any notion that they could form a breakaway tournament. His comments come in response to PRL and LNR’s proposals to form a separate tournament starting next season if their demands are not met, into which they have extended an invitation to other clubs.
Newly emboldened by TV money from the BT Sport deal, the proposal is a dangerous one to the ERC who risk being cut out of the process altogether. Their president, however, insists the demands of the English and French clubs are unrealistic and unfair.
“There were meetings up to the beginning of June. Since then everyone has been waiting for someone else to make the first move to kick-start the negotiations,” Lux told AFP.
“We received letters from the English and French leagues a few weeks ago that had a decidedly guerilla spirit to them. When I hear the English and French leagues denouncing Celtic intransigence, we could also reply that those two leagues don’t want to change their positions. We need to find a compromise to advance.”
Lux is adamant that there will be no Anglo-French competition next year.
“It’s not possible,” he announced. “I went to a meeting last week where the chief executive of the English (Rugby) Union Ian Ritchie and the president Bill Beaumont clearly said they had told their clubs there would be no new company.
“Pierre Camou (president of the French Rugby Federation) has clearly indicated in France for some time that there will never be a Franco-English competition, he’s against it. All the federations hope that ERC continues to run the (European) competitions.”
He also says that the Anglo-French proposals would have a detrimental effect on the game in Europe.
“Going from 24 to 20 clubs in the European Cup means the Scottish and Italian teams would lose out,” he said. “I’ve been told it would improve the level of the Challenge Cup (as that would move from 20 to 24 teams) but I remain sceptical because we’re asking for those four teams to come solely from the Celtic League. I would prefer all the leagues to make an effort.”
Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images