As proposals for how to deal with the shambles that is the future of European rugby continue to appear left right and centre, one of the more intriguing ones is the suggestion of holding the Premiership final in February, before the Six Nations, allowing for a European tournament to take place between March and June.
This could feasibly include the South African clubs from the 2015/2016 season onwards, as rumours of their involvement gather pace.
A Premiership Rugby source told the Guardian: “Potentially the Premiership final could be before the Six Nations. Then, if you ran a new Heineken Cup with the South Africans involved between March and June, that would be a pretty good competition for four months. You’ll hear people not just talking about a new European Cup but a new trans-border competition.”
A potential stumbling block to any new tournament would be the need to have to approved by the relevant unions and IRB. Mark McCafferty, CEO of Premiership Rugby, is confident this would not be an issue, however, thanks to the BT Sport deal and the power it has afforded English clubs. Similarly in France, the television rights are up for bidding this year, and a comparable deal is not out of the question.
The source told the Guardian: “There are still some people who will say: ‘You can’t have a cross-border competition without the permission of the French Federation, the RFU and the IRB.’ Those people are living in the past.
“What has changed the whole landscape is the BT Sport deal because suddenly the clubs have got their own broadcaster and are bringing their own money into the game. The French will also be selling their equivalent TV rights shortly. The unions can huff and puff as much as they like but the reality is that the unions are not going to stop a competition bringing in £30m to £40m to rugby.”
It seems BT Sport’s motto of being a ‘game changer’ could be more true than they thought. What do you make of these new proposals? Would you be happy to see a European-South African competition that ran after the domestic season had finished?
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