IRB continues to denounce Rugby Champions Cup

heineken ball
The IRB has released a statement reconfirming their backing of a European competition run by the Unions next season, in the process denouncing the ‘rebel’ competition, The Rugby Champions Cup, which does not have the support of any of the unions.

The statement read:

The International Rugby Board strongly believes that the establishment of a truly representative pan-European Rugby competition that fully complies with IRB Regulations and Bye-Laws is in the best interests of the global Game.

The IRB acknowledges and supports the commitment of the six nations Member Unions in their ongoing attempts to reach an accord for a genuine European competition that has Europe’s top players and fans at heart.

However, despite progress on key terms for the future of European competition, the apparent lack of a common solution across the six nations Unions and their respective clubs, regions and provinces is of concern to the IRB.

IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “In order to reach an outcome that is in the best interests of Rugby globally, the IRB will work actively with its Unions towards the goal of achieving a unified and acceptable outcome for all stakeholders involved.”

“In the interests of the global Game, the IRB reaffirms that it will not support any cross border competitions that are not approved by the Unions of any participating clubs, Rugby bodies and host countries in full accordance with IRB Regulations and Bye-Laws.”

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

27 thoughts on “IRB continues to denounce Rugby Champions Cup

  1. I think the only real avenue for the Welsh regions, as it always has been, is to try and make an agreement with the WRU on this. What’s the RFU stance on the RCC, is that clear yet?

  2. The IRB has to back the unions. After all the IRB is group of Unions.

    As for the Welsh, I think they have to go with the Anglo-Welsh cup, the fact is that the combination of WRU and HC hasn’t helped they have been put into near bankrupcy for a long time. They have to increase their revenue stream and build for the future like any club in England does. Furthermore I think that that the English clubs would love to have them as they bring a large rugby market with them, plus some spice.

    Honestly I hate the way the Unions try to control Rugby and prevent the club game from developing, I would vote for anything that diminishes Union control. The Celtic league is terrible and not selfsustaining.

    God knows what will happen in the future, but the fact remain that the new investment in Rugby is taking place at club level, tv deals and Rich club owners, the clubs are the big future.

    I think this time the English clubs will stand firm. The French will eventually follow and the HC as it is today is finished.

    1. Ron, your entitled to your opinion of the Celtic (Pro 12) League as am I which is totally at odds with yours and I watch it every week. The Pro12 performances in the HC would suggest it produces better teams than the Premiership and is on a par with the Top 14. The fact remains that no cross border competition can happen without both Unions agreement so the anglo welsh thing wont happen without WRU approval. You see the game is called rugby union for a reason, its rugby run by unions. If the pro clubs want control they will have to breakaway and form their own game much like rugby league.

      1. Is your comment based on the origin of the use of union in ‘rugby union’ based on any facts? I have never heard that before, I didn’t think there was a reason for the name other than to separate itself when it parted from league.

        The WRU is just a governing body, there isn’t anything stopping the regions parting from them and governing themselves.

        1. The Unions have no leagal right to stop anybody from creating a different competition. If you and I wanted to start a rugby competition governed by oursleves we could.

          The Unions could tell us that players from our competitions were inelligable from playing in competition govened by them but if I want to play rugby against somebody else, I can.

          This pomposity, that the unions control rugby is what drives me crazy in the first place. The only control they have is money. If an Anglo-Welsh league can sustain itself economically then it can exist. End of legal story.

          You don’t get the FA telling the PL what to do or how to do it.

          1. Of course anyone could breakaway from the unions and continue playing rugby. The problem would be any player, coach, referee, administrator who broke away from the unions would be ineligible to play in competitions run by unions, basically everything beyond the breakaway. So any player who played in the anglo welsh league would be ineligible to play in the six nations or the world cup, competitions run by unions. Lets be honest, it aint gonna happen. The fact is rugby is a minority sport in every country it is played in bar NZ so whether we like it or not we all need each other, unions, clubs, players, administrators, supporters. It is unrealistic to think one part of the game should be run by a few businessmen with very short term, narrow focus. The gamne is bigger than that. We all want a resolution but one that will benefit the game as a whole.

            1. Do you really believe the Unions would shoot themselves in the foot by not allowing players from the Anglo-Welsh league to play in the 6 nations? Course they wouldn’t, its the quality of players that are the draw, and they can’t lose viewers as viewers = revenue.

              1. Jacob – it won’t come to that but there will be “who blinks first”. The Unions will bank on the idea that top end players will leave the rebel clubs because the Union would state that no players from those rebels can play in the 6 nations (I think this is also an IRB regulation). So they will keep saying it because that is their lever – by threatening this they hope the players either leave the clubs or force the clubs to compromise. On the other side the clubs will think that if they can get the players on their side this will force the union to avoid exactly the situation you’ve listed – the top tier players not playing in the six nations.

                Note delib use of “clubs” because I suspect that is what they will become if they do rebel.

                1. It could be interesting and your obviously right.

                  Players are more likely to leave the rebel unions I would imagine. Playing for your country must be most players priorities. But then, I can’t see Warburton being dropped if he decided to stay with Cardiff. Who knows what will happen!

                2. It’s guys like Warbs I feel sorry for in this. It’s obvious that people are starting to look towards what the players are going to do. Extra incentive to go to France, if they even needed any.

      2. The IRB must be wetting themselves at the possibility that these disputes might end up in court and that no doubt is why they’ve decided to intervene now. If any union loses a restraint of trade case then the implications for irb don`t bear thinking about. If the Welsh regions lose a case they’ve nothing to lose because they will. Be no worse off. Hopefully the irb will bang union heads together and we’ll get a negotiated deal governed by the six nations committee. Unfortunately the Welsh regions may be hung out to dry.

  3. If I was a non-WRU backer of any of the Welsh regions I would be looking to:
    1) not putting any more money in
    2) trying to get out any money I have invested already
    3) looking for any tax loopholes I can exploit due to my investment.
    4) tattoo on my arm never to invest in anything again where you are at the mercy of committee men
    5) cut my losses and run for the hills

    1. The PWC report was also damning of the regional teams management. So you cant blame the WRU for everything. As for the losses, much like rugby in England much of these losses benefit certain individuals tax returns.

  4. The International Rugby Board strongly believes that the establishment of a truly representative pan-European Rugby competition that fully complies with IRB Regulations and Bye-Laws is in the best interests of the global Game.

    Of course they aren’t going to condone a breakaway competition that doesn’t have the unions backing but they aren’t saying carry on as you are either.

    Hope they do work actively with the unions as stated.

  5. Is this about greed of bt sport and certain clubs looking to bully their way into another competition earthier than the existing one The ERc and the two existing competitions to me look fine so is it sour greases by certain English French and welsh clubs can somebody explains how and why we are in this situation thanks Harry hackett Dublin Ireland

    1. Harry, in a nutshell its all about control. Certain pro clubs want to control the professional club game. The unions believe they should control the game, not just the pro game but every aspect. England, France & Wales (to a lesser extent) have privately owned clubs. The Heineken Cup was set up by the Unions to increase the reach of the game under the control of ERC. The PRL (English clubs) and the LNR (French clubs) wangted to breakaway from the ERC as they said it was unfair and didnt maximise the economic potential of the tournament. They wanted control. The PRL signed a deal with BT for Premiership rugby but also for European Rugby (which they didnt own the rights to). They tried to set up the ‘Champions Cup’ which the Unions have rejected. The ERC signed a deal with Sky which was agreed by the RFU (English union) and the FFR (French Union). The FFR have more control of their clubs which resulted in the LNR exiting from the proposed champions cup thingy. It is unclear what exactly the French are planning to do next. The Welsh regions want to join the new competition but the WRU want the regions to stay with ERC. So what we have in Wales now is a row that really should have been fought when the game went pro initially. Who controls rugby? In Wales all four regions are loosing money. In England 8 of the 12 premiership teams loose money (some considerable amounts, Saracens lost more money last year than it cost to run Connacht for a year). France is a bit different in that they seem to have this sugardaddy element who take up the tab for any losses (no limits) which has resulted in them hoovering up players from all over the world and has seen a wide gap opening up between the money clubs and the smaller ones to such an extent that the Top 14 itself is in jeporady. The LNR / FFR need to sort that one out before it negatively affects not just the Top 14 but the French National team and every other league in the world as they suck up all available talent. If you have one or two leagues with unlimited funds all others will suffer. The question is are these leagues sustainable with such losses? In the meantime the FFR have proposed euro rugby be controlled by FIRA, the RFU have proposed it be run by the six nations and the Celts and Italians want it run by ERC. Clear as mud eh?

      1. Excellent explanation ro!

        I might add that, a contributing factor to the tangled web is that the Unions have to run the game from top to bottom, which means funding what we like to call “Grass Roots”.

        All of the money is generated at the top through Internationals, and the Internationals are reliant on the pro game to (a) maintain/grow interest and (b) provide the International resource (the players).

        The problem is that the Pro Game, especially in England in France is run as a series of businesses or private “play things” and these all have – ultimately – only their self interest at heart.

        They all know that they cannot exist in a vacuum of course, so they do rely on the Unions to a certain extent – the International game is a necessary evil to them – and grass roots is a necessity for them to continue to resource their teams (or academies), although it could be argued that France is becoming ever less reliant on home grown talent.

        Anyway, thats just another aspect to the mess.

          1. but PRL have been hiding behind the reform excuse when they really wanted control. The sticking point now is there is two TV deals. ERC with Sky and PRL with BT. PRL are demanding ERC disband so their TV deal with BT can go ahead. Thats the only reason, all other excuses are waffle. I have a solution, lets disband the ERC and PRL thereby nullifying both TV deals and whatever is agreed by all parties to run european rugby negotiates a new TV deal for all!

  6. O lord it gas on here really lol. All the usual suspects crying into there spilled milk lol, about how terrible those awful , appaling , and evil people are in the erc and how great a rugby utopia we would all have if only they erc, moved aside and let the real rugby people i.e. billionaire buisnessmen and rich shareholders who work so hard at grassroots level coaching kids and running small clubs, wonderful men and women who have a deep love for the game of rugby and only want to better it un like that awful and dangerous erc, .The fact that the club /professional game has expanded in popularity beyond all dreams in the last 12 or 15 years or the fact that young players in a region can have a real chance of getting up to the professional level is of course nonsense and should be halted immediately , The good news is that if the billionaires who so love the game get their way then all this will come to an end and not before time, . Because of course the buffoons,oops sorry ,billionaires will do the right thing and go away and shake their large cheque books and even larger posteriors lol at the problem and simply buy the best as the fans demand and who really cares about the small junior clubs or the silly underage teams or the schools sides taking up so much pitch time when there is a fortune to be made from the sport. Lets get the campaign started now , erc out and sugardaddy’s in . print banners for next weekends round of hein cup games and march on the offices of erc for they must go now. lol. .if the game is to become really global. When the billionaires get together they will take the game to asia and rugby will probably rival american football and sure who knows it will eventually be the biggest sport in the world or so the buffoons , :jez sorry i did it again . that should be billionaires would have all and sundry believe and they seem to have a lot of suckers on here lol.

  7. Right, if that’s the level of debate the pro-ERC supporters want to use then I’m switching sides. Which rugby billionaire can I sign up with?

    First sign you’ve lost the argument – when you say that people who can see the other side are just ignorant buffoons who have been duped because they don’t have the insight and intelligence that you have. How about instead of grammatically inept abuse you tell us WHY we are better off with the status quo?

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