Controversial LNR boss Paul Goze has lived up to his reputation by claiming that he used the Rugby Champions Cup, a breakaway European tournament championed by the English clubs, to force the ERC to meet their demands.
The Top 14 clubs yesterday performed a shock u-turn in their stance on Europe, agreeing to remain in the Heineken Cup next season after having previously backed the English clubs’ proposal for a new competition.
Goze said that the French clubs, who voted yesterday on the matter at a meeting just outside of Paris, would play in the ERC-run tournaments next year, but only if the English clubs were allowed back in also. If that doesn’t happen, then who knows what the outcome will be.
“The RCC was a way to get the progress we wanted,” Goze told Midi Olympique, referring to the restructured qualification format and reorganised financial distribution that has since been agreed upon.
“If the English cannot participate in next year’s competition, then a new meeting will be organised. Then we will pose the question as to whether the French clubs will also take part. I can’t say whether the English clubs will be able to leave their contract with BT Sport.”
Goze admitted, however, that this was a one year deal, designed to give them time to come up with a proper alternative for the 2015/2016 season.
“This year of transition will give us enough time to create a new structure,” he added. “From now until July 1st 2014, we will try and find a way to include everybody in the new competition next year. We want to move to a new structure which would be more like an association of federations, similar to the one used in football. It’s not possible to do that in six months.
“This new structure will be out of the ordinary for rugby. It will change attitudes, so it’s very important. The most difficult aspect is getting everyone behind the idea of an association of federations. Therefore we need to get a commission up and running as soon as possible to start planning for 2015-2016.”
He admitted that, at the moment, the biggest obstacle appeared to be the deal with BT Sport that the Premiership Rugby have signed, the details of which nobody seems to be quite sure.
“If there is one problem, it’s the contract signed by the English clubs. We reserve the right to withdraw from the competition next season should they not be able to join.”
Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images