Play-off olive branch extended to Celts and Italians

This week’s European development comes in the form of a proposed play-off system for entry to the new Rugby Champions Cup, according to a report in The Daily Telegraph. How would this work?

The new tournament will comprise 20 teams, with the top six from each of the Aviva Premiership, RaboDirect PRO12 and Top 14 leagues gaining automatic qualification. This leaves two places to be filled. In the current Heineken Cup set-up the winners of the Heineken and Amlin Challenge Cups qualify; if they have already qualified through league position (as is almost always the case), the places go to the highest-placed team in the winner’s league that has not automatically qualified.

The proposal would seemingly look to scrap that system, in favour of an end-of-season play-off that would allow teams from each of the three leagues a shot at gaining an extra qualification spot. There could be two games spread over a ‘play-off’ weekend, with the winners gaining the final two places in the competition (the only issue with that is, two games equals four teams, but coming from three leagues… how will that work?).

Without knowing too many of the details, it would seem to fit the ‘meritocratic’ system so coveted by the English and French clubs, while also giving the Celtic nations a chance to boost their representation in the competition that is currently set to be cut to just six teams.

The main plus point here is that it seems to be, finally, an element of compromise, signalling some sort of progress. The ‘play-off’ weekend would also add an extra level of excitement to the close-season for teams out of the race for the traditional qualification places but also not fighting to avoid relegation. In short, it would mean more competitive, exciting matches for those teams in limbo mid-table.

This is clearly just an initial proposal, with no indication as of yet as to how the Celtic and Italian unions will react, and even if it does prove acceptable there is still plenty of work to be done in terms of money, broadcasting rights and governance.

Elsewhere this week, Premiership Rugby chairman Quentin Smith has said in an interview with the BBC that there has been plenty of interest in the Rugby Champions Cup from teams outside of the Anglo-French alliance, but that nobody was yet willing to back it publicly and risk the wrath of their union.

“We’ve opened the doors to everyone else in Europe,” Smith said. “There is a lot of interest and frankly we’re not surprised. We’ve had discussions with all sorts of people.

“What’s difficult for everyone else is that any other team that is talking to us or would like to join is having to have difficult conversations with respective unions. Each of the unions issued a press release and made it abundantly clear that no team could participate without their blessing.

“We know that everyone else is having those conversations. It’s unlikely we will know exactly where anyone is until later this month. There was a meeting called by European Rugby Club for next week, October 23. We’re [the English clubs] not going and the French clubs aren’t going.

“But there’s a good chance that others will go and I suspect nobody will want to, for want of a better term, break cover before they’ve been through that meeting.”

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

58 thoughts on “Play-off olive branch extended to Celts and Italians

  1. Good idea, a couple more big end of season games!

    Prefer this to extra positions to the leagues that produce the tier 1 and tier 2 comp winners as the 7th and potentially 8th place teams haven’t done anything to earn the position. I’m assuming this would also prevent us getting, for example, 8 French teams in (or the more unlikely event of 8 English) which is too many for 1 nation in my opinion.

    1. “Good idea, a couple more big end of season games! ” – I assume this was sarcasm? Here we are trying to get a global season, reduce player and fan burnout etc. and the solution now is an extra game? Madness.

      1. No, I genuinely thought it was decent idea, on the assumption that the teams involved in these ‘play offs’ aren’t involved in the domestic equivalents therefore the season shouldn’t have to be extended in principle (though the length of the French season could make this tricky I admit).

        I prefer this to inviting the 7th and possibly 8th team out of a league just because that league has produced one or two cup winners.

  2. I could the fourth team in the play off potentially come from the rest of Europe? The Romanian side gave Worcester a run for their money the other day!

    It would give whichever team was playing them a slight advantage mind you. But it spreads the interest around Europe whilst also having the meritocracy element which everyone likes harping on about.

  3. I still think a much more agreeable solution would be to have the top 4 in each league qualify automatically for the competition. In France this could be the top 4 in the regular league season or the 4 semi-finalists, whichever way they want to work it. This gives us 12, and therefore 8 spots remaining.

    We can therefore have 16 teams enter a qualification round to draw the 8. For me, that would be another 4 from each league and another 4 from around Europe (spreading the game and that). Maybe even have pre-qualifying rounds for these 4 spots, with representatives from Spain, Portugal, Germany, Georgia, Russia, Romania etc.

    In each league you then have a battle to get into the top 4, to get into the top 8 and to avoid relegation (in the case of the Top 14 and the Aviva Premiership). The 8 teams that didn’t make it could join up with the other 14 teams in the Premiership/Rabo and T14 and possibly two other minor European clubs to form an extended Amlin-type competition of 24 teams. In which case I’d have 6 pools of 4 with only the top team going through (to be joined by 2 teams dropping down).

    1. Sticking a Spanish team into the top 18 teams of Europe would be carnage. Rugby is a sport where the diff between amateur/semi-pro/pro is massive and can cause sig. injuries when you try and mix them. Unlike football, where a plucky team can get a creditable low scoring loss or the odd narrow win, a poorer team in rugby is usually humiliated physically and on the scoreboard (looking at you Cardiff). I applaud the idea of widening the game but you can only do it when there is a base of pro rugby players to use already e.g. Italy’s concentration of all their talent into their top two fully pro teams.

      The semi-pro Portugese etc. get enough hidings in the Amlin without needing to ever come near Saracens/Toulon/Clermont, etc.

      1. Completely agree with you here Brighty, as nice an idea as it is to involve some teams from other nations in something like this, they would simply be handed a complete hiding every time.

  4. Don’t concern yourself, this competition will not happen. Just one question. Where will the match officials come from. They are all employed by the various unions none of which have sanctioned this comp.

    English rugby shooting itself in the foot again.

    BT will not want a competition without the strongest teams in it. They are currently the Irish teams. BT Sport sponsers both Scottish teams, they will want them in. Wales are with out doubt the best team in Europe at the moment, so the reegions will have to be involved. Without their Celtic masters the English clubs plan is doomed to fail. I do hope they haven’t signed any contracts, if they have it could cost them a couple of quid. Oh dear, heehee!!

    1. Can’t agree with that Dai.

      BT want commercial reach – 60 million English, 3 million Welsh, 9 million Irish, etc. Where would you put your marketing dollars?

      “Wales are without doubt the worst regional teams in B&I at the moment” – there, fixed that for you. Our regional teams are not a big draw because frankly they don’t win enough to make it exciting. The Os used to be a bit of a draw but even they’re not box office anymore.

      I think the Unions will sanction the comp eventually once the detail is sorted out.

    2. Dai, if the unions try to block the competition by not providing any officials then we really are heading for a meltdown as:-
      – The clubs will buy there own (and probably pay them better) and split further from the unions
      – The clubs will withhold players from the unions

      I do not envisage the Rabo nations being able to drive a wedge between the French and English, they seem united and consistent in their message. Telling the French and English they can’t do it is just as dumb/pointless as the French/English telling the Rabo teams they face financial oblivion if they don’t join.

      Of course BT are going to want the best competition with the best teams in as this will generate the greatest interest and audience, but their partnership with PRL seems to be getting off to a great start (100% increase in audiences apparently). So whilst I can foresee they will be applying lots of pressure to find a solution they will want a solution that PRL are happy with.

      1. “I do not envisage the Rabo nations being able to drive a wedge between the French and English, they seem united and consistent in their message.” – Umm, can’t help but point out that this statement doesn’t look so true today Matt! :-)

        The Toulon development is scary. Not because of the development itself (it’s just a rich and crazy owner throwing his toys out of the pram, I expect it to blow over) but because it highlights what could happen if we let the clubs run the European cups. Clubs that are commercial entities that can be bought and sold, thus meaning we could end up with any old rich mentalist in charge of important European rugby decisions. Perhaps we’ll get some Yanks investing and demanding we move to 4 quarters to increase the commercial potential?

        1. If the unions don’t supply officials the clubs will find a way around it. Next Rabo teams will be saying “it’s OK, the new comp won’t happen, because no one will supply them a ball”

          I’m not suggesting that setting up new referee panels with club control is a good thing, I’m pointing out that this is unlikely to be a blocker that prevents a new comp from being set up.

          Once upon a time a bunch of toffs in London told some people in the north of England that rugby was amateur and working class people shouldn’t be paid to play. They did as they pleased. We could see a seismic change with clubs cutting their ties with unions if they don’t find common ground.

  5. Getting into bed with the french will not do England any good. All the Celtic unions will have to do is get together with the IRB sort out a new format to the competition with the ERC and the French will turn and join that.

    With regard to the regions, yes they do need waking up, the players are top draw but the coaches really aren’t. With the exception of the Jones boys at The Dragons there really is no quality there. If only the WRU would get a Kiwi in place at each region as Director of Rugby , to get the teams sorted out and provide some coaching to our very young and inexperianced coach staff. Do that and with out doubt each team would improve almost instantly, I give you the example of the Dragons. We have the players what we don’t have are the coaches.

    I may have gone of topic there for which I appologise.

    1. Agree with you on the regions but they need to get better before they can be taken seriously, not expect people to care about them on the promise that one day they could be good.

      Can’t see your idea of Celts+Italy+France ever coming off. Why would the French want to effectively join the Rabo and miss out on the huge English market which is bigger than the Celt+Italy one?

    2. I guess your user name says it all Dai, I don’t think you’ve grasped the realities of the real world. ERC is finished the French and English have made it clear that they would prefer no European competition at all rather than one run by ERC and in case you haven’t noticed it’s the unions sitting down to talk this week. I think a deal will be done based loosley on the Anglo-French proposals. Whatever happens the one thing we can be sure of is that the decision makers wont be running to read our opinions on this or other bloggs. We have no option but to wait and see.

      1. I think you are right to a point. A deal will be done between the IRB, ERC, WRU, IRFU, SRFU and FRI. But the English and French unions would appear to have NO control over their clubs who have all decided that they dont want to talk. Strange as they are the ones who have caused this mess, they are showing no responsibility for ther actions, but that is business.

        Maybe the RFU could start another competition in England, maybe create regional teams, 8 would do, with the carrot of England caps for the players who play in that competition. Think this is fantasy, think about it a bit more. Does the RFU owe any favours to the PLR, I think not.

        Do the same in France and suddenly we have what could be a viable European league with a knockout competition as well.

    3. As regards the Welsh regions, after Cardiff’s humiliation at the weekend Holland their CEO has announced that they need to stregnthen the team within weeks, they have the money apparently and have agents in SA, NZ and Aus looking for players. Obviously 13 full welsh internationals including 5 lions just aren’t good enough.

      And there was I thinking it was only ‘Rich’ English clubs that had a policy of buying in foreign players.

      1. The players are top quality, however the coaches are not. What they and the Scarlets and Ospreys need to do is get a quality coach in place. They can sort out the playing side and mentor the young coaches who are struggeling at the moment.

      2. No you have got it wrong. We don’t need foreign players we need foreign coaches or top quality British ones not the young kids that we have in place at the moment.

        1. I was having a gentle poke at the blues management and those posters who constantly moan about ‘foreigners’ and ‘Rich’ clubs in the Aviva. Sorry, I just couldn’t resist such a soft target.

  6. I will say this only once, so listen carefully. The WRU, IRFU and SRFU are very unlikely to do a deal with a bunch of here today gone tomorrow English and French business men.

    For that matter the IRB and ERC are also not likely to want to deal with them either.

    Just because the English RU have felt the need to give their clubs the freedom to negotiate their own deals is no reason for the other unions to do so. They have no credible standing in the world of professional rugby and certainly no right at all to try and tell the unions or clubs from other countries what they should do.

    The English and French model is based to much on Wendy Ball and that will only head in one direction, the workhouse.

    1. Nobody realisticaly expects a deal directly between the RABO unions and the clubs. The deal will be done between the RFU and the Rabo unions so that the Rabo unions can present it as a ‘union’ deal but it will be largely on the Anglo/French terms and outside the ERC. If the Rabo unions are foolish enough to refuse a deal then they will be left with a ‘Rabo cup’ of limited commercial value. Since PRL get little from the Heineken anyway they wont be too worried if they have no european competition for a year or 2 or 3. If you can’t bring yourself to believe that then consider; Exeter is the smallest club in the Aviva, will not even get full funding from PRL until 2015, no multi millionaire sugar daddy, member owned has recently published a long term forecast showing that even without qualification for the Heineken they will remain profitable and be able to fund their expansion plans up to 2020 .

      One or two clubs might go ‘down’ as wasps almost did last year but if they do, well there are long established clubs like Bristol only too anxious to take their place and new owners ready to step into the breach. The truth is that PRL really dont ‘need’ the celts, obviously life is better and a bit more fun if they are on board but they are not essential.

      1. Ray I partially agree with what you’ve said but do think you’ve underestimated the need for the Celts to thrive. Without a thriving NH rugby scene eventually rugby will become just France and England and then sponsorship and media interest will wane so there will be an indirect effect on the amount of money in English rugby.

        Witness rugby league – passionately supported where it is loved, financially sound where it is followed, but unable to expand and thus grow as it’s just not played anywhere else enough so it bobbles along.

        Do agree though that in the immediate term PRL can stay out of Europe for a few years.

        When the next BT deal comes to be signed the PRL will find themselves with less attractive terms if rugby as a whole has shrunk.

        1. No deal and everyone loses, short and long term. Some just lose more than others in the short term.

          Long term consequences for the global game are not good though, we’ve already got Australia no longer able to afford to eat at the top table. The game needs revenue at all levels, we can’t have dwindling interest in RWCs and less money to fund tier2/3 nations as a result.

          No deal means a small number of people believe their bruised ego is a bigger mater than the long term health of the game.

          I agree with Ray that the ERC is dead and buried, they have screwed the pooch and nothing constructive has come out of any of the negotiations, the point of no return seems to be been passed some time ago.

        2. I don’t disagree about the desirability of a thriving celtic contribution but we’re not trying to determine the long term future of the game, just sort out the current impasse. I agree we don’t want ‘commercial’ interests running the game but nor do we want the ‘blazers’ running it. I firmly believe that we need a balance of power so there are checks and balances on both sides. I sometimes wince at the statements from a couple of the club owners but I wince just as much at the statements from the unions. it also needs to be recognised that the millionaire backers have contributed a great deal to the game in terms of investment in infrastructure and commercial innovation. They also contribute a lot at grass roots level. The academy structure, junior and community funding is impressive. The RFU and the PRL seem to be working out a good partnering type arrangement.
          I’m glad you recognise that PRL can stay out of europe if necessary. So many commentators just dont see it. They still think that if the RABO unions hold firm PRL will have to give in, it ain’t going to happen. The Rabo unions remind me of a friend I have. His wife left him 3 years ago but he still thinks she’ll come back, despite her new relationship. The Anglo/French will eventualy get what they want but I’m afraid we may have to suffer a few years without a meaningfull european competition before it happens.

  7. Seems just as tame as the HC really.
    I believe I already mentioned my gladiatorial (just me?) view on how I’d like a reformed European competition to be a brutal conflict whereby all the teams that qualify for the HC are really just mainly fodder until the finale – a tri-nations style, 3-way battle between the 3 best performing teams in the pool stages – only 3 pools in my configuration and less teams in the competition overall – more competitive (regardless of what region they come from – could be 3 French, or 3 English some years, 3 celtic would be unlikely admittedly but u never know if Italy rise up).

  8. What claptrap that is being spouted here mainly from the english contingent probably in shock all these years at the annual stuffings their STARS get from the irish sides so they want out ,enough of the humilitation and time for the celts ,opps sorry irish sides to get back in their box and go back to the bogs eh and don;t ever again have the cheek to challenge english sporting might . But fear not sugar daddy to the rescue ‘we have a plan’ ‘lets all of us go back to our own era of domination and pretend to the world that we really are the best so tell you what why not just have our own tournament and we will win it every time and then the world will salute english might again believe me’ ,it could even be appropiately named , the churchill cup or the thatcher trophy maybe . Jez what a sad bunch all the english rugby media and pundits are to be sucked in by this charade because it won;t happen and any attempt at a breakway should be and will be met with bans from all global rugby by the irb, The french will soon jump ship because they can see this already and the bulldogs opps sorry english will be left high and dry , The sick man of europe again sure the will probably leave the eu at the same time go it alone back to the empire , , i can’t wait, lol ha ha

  9. The only thing wrong with the hein cup is that the english sides can’ t win it amd the erc who have done a fine job building this competition up from a low base in the ninenties should call the bluff of these buffons and cut a deal with the french who deep down actually want to stay in the hein cup and then the english will be left high and dry . I personally would rather to only have the rabop 12 and a mini hein cup than have these guys with lots of money but little principle be allowed hijack rugby in europe and put the game here(europe) back several years . So the sugar daddy dream is just fantasy rugby because the shrewd people that run the sport simply won’t go there and allow this to happen. The big european soccer clubs tried a similar stunt some years ago and were put in their box with the threat of expulsion from all organised fotball , so these clowns will meet the same fate but sadly the english rugby media and fans are just going along with this rubbish like little lapdogs. To all english rugby folk ,’ cop on or get the hell out of our sport’

    1. JOHNE, what a well reasoned and logical argument.

      Please can you explain why equal participants in the same competition should not receive an equal share of the proceeds?

      The English want a European Cup, the French want a European cup, but neither want to be in a competition where they are simply providing revenue for the other participants and getting very little themselves.

      It is the “we are fine with it as it is” mentality that has resulted in this split.

  10. I guess you’re lost johne. This is a site for sensible rugby folk to discuss the actual issues in mutual respect. You are obviously looking for you’ll be more comfortable there.

      1. wow wee srtuck a cord then eh , well the truth always hurts then they say , Gas if you look back in history when the soccer w cup started the english thought they were to good to take part and if you go back a little when the english again along with the french wanted to breakway from the six nations because’ were simply to good for them and need to play at a higher level’. Well the welsh and irish put paid to all that then , but we can’t trust the welsh this time round they will prob go to the highest bidder i fear, So i merely show that english sport in general has real form when it comes to throwing your toys out of the pram. So can someone on here please tell me what is so awful about the current setup in the hein cup? . If the buffons had their way then over the last 2 weeks there would have been no Edinburgh, or Cardiff heroics or no Connacht or any italian side, we would eventually be down to two irish and two welsh teams and the english and french making up the rest so that;s progress then and i know nothing bout rugby lol. The erc have built up the hein cup from nothing in the mid 90s to what it is now and are looking at finals going to milan and barcelona and even brussels in time to come so where will the buffons play their finals prob between paris cardiff and twichenham i fear, Spreading the rugby gospel eh, The hein cup needs change ok but needs to be expanded to 28 teams 7 groups of 4 teams with just on runner up getting through and maybe bring in regional sides from eastern europe and let the buffons have each on extra club. The irb just need to step in and start issusing bans to any body who involves them selves with this anglo- french charade because rugby in europe will eventually die a death and will have an even narrower base than it has traditionally always had progress ithey say, lol

  11. By sensible I think you mean GREEDY, PIG HEADED we invented the game so you WILL do what we say EPR dictators.

    1. Why do teams making an equal contribution to a competition not deserve an equal share of the spoils?

      What is PIG HEADED about wanting the same reward for all? If your immediate peer performing the same job earned 2x-3x the salary for doing it would you be happy about it? Probably not, and neither are the premiership teams.

      It just seems ironic that the teams asking for an equal share are accused of greed by those that currently have the lions share.

    2. I actually meant people who took the trouble to check their facts, and recognise that wishing something was true doesn’t make it so. People who, for example, realise that the English and French are fully entitled to walk away from ERC if it doesn’t, in their opinion, treat them fairly. What right does anyone have to insist on the Anglo French remaining in ERC against their will? Their motives are irrelevant, it is their right. Inevitably the world is changing – deal with it!

  12. Its not teams that sign up to IRB competitions it is Unions and each union gets an equal share. The WRU decided to enter all 4 regions into the European competitions the English decided to enter many more teams, that is their choice. So when you divide the pie by the number of teams then the English teams obviously get a smaller portion than the same pie divided by 4 in the case of the Welsh regions.

    It seems to me the English got what they signed up for, now they feel they have a right to ask for a bigger share. Why, only they can tell you. Its not as if they are constantly winning the European tournaments, no, far from it. But stop, it appears the Celts have been cheating, not the French, who have won most European cups. They have been managing their playing staff in a far more beneficiak way. Isn’t it the English who decided to have a league competition which included relegation which apparently forces them to play their “first” team more often and therefore tire them out for when the Irish come calling. The English have created the situation that they are complaining about, instead of demanding that others change their ways, surely it is them who must change.

    1. Dai, having more teams in a competition, means more fixtures, more fixtures means more revenue. Each team makes an equal contribution and therefore deserves an equal share.

      If the number of English and French teams were reduced to 3 or 4 (for example) to give everyone an equal share this simply means less money for all, this defeats the objective completely. Lets have a competition that generates the largest revenue possible, so all can benefit.

      Basically the choices are an equal share or none. Choosing none is turkeys voting for Christmas.

      I would much rather this had all been sorted out within an ERC framework, but it is people holding onto the belief that a Welsh, Scottish or Irish club/province/region deserve more for participating in the same competition than an English or French one that has made this untenable (sadly).

    2. Still not listening Dai? All the English and French have done is to say, ‘sorry the current set up is unacceptable to us so we are leaving when the current agreement expires’ ? Do they not have the right to leave if they want? Now they have said ‘as we are no longer within ERC we intend to set up a seperate competition, which by the way you can join if you wish’

      There’s no compulsion everyone’s free to join or not whichever competition they wish. The Celtic unions now agree that there is a strong case for change to qualification and revenue sharing so what’s the big issue here? OK the Anglo’French are so hissed off with ERC that it will have to go but that’s a small price to pay surely.

  13. Ray

    Sorry mate but sitting around the negotiating table when the ERC and its competions were formed were unions, not clubs, there fore the pie has been cut according to bodies around the table.

    Since then of course the RFU, the first union formed and the first to capitulate to the power of the blazers with money, have castrated themselves. Why on earth do you think that any other union should follow suit and give in to the power of the, as I have said before, here today gone tomorrow owners. Look the owners want one thing and one thing only, despite what they may mouth. They want a profitable business, that earns them the return that they require or they want a company that they can sell for even more money. Why should the other unions give in to this sort of distasteful activity.

    1. What is different between a club wanting to make a profit and a union wanting to make one? Is it distasteful for a union to make a profit? Is it distasteful for the WRU CEO to be on a salary of over £300K? I doubt club CEOs are raking in that sort of salary.

      The game was newly professional when the HC was first set up, there was lots of optimism about how much income was going to be flowing into clubs. The agreement that was put in place then doesn’t work any more. An argument that something that was agreed historically can not be changed in the context of a the current reality is crazy.

      Clubs are largely loss making and clubs are not being rewarded for the value that they bring to European competitions. That needs to be rectified.

      I’m not arguing that the French clubs should sell their TV rights and the English clubs should sell theirs and keep all that mullah for themselves, I’m arguing for a competition that generates the maximum revenue for all. Only by everyone having an equal share does everyone have a shared incentive to grow the cake. As soon as the shares are unequal everyone starts squabbling over slices.

    2. Of course they shouldn’t give in Dai. Let ’em hold their ground, ignore how the world has changed. Do you seriously think that anyone in France or England gives a monkey’s about how the celts organise their rugby? as I said above the English have just said ERC is not acceptable to them so they are leaving, do you deny them the right to leave?

    3. This nonsense about here today rich club owners etc is getting tiresome.

      First no one invests in a rugby club in order to make money. Without exception all club owners/investors are fans/enthusiasts first. I challenge anyone to name someone who has made money out of a rugby club.

      Second look at the financial reports of the clubs, any evidence of profiteering?

      Third look at the investment that has been made in infrastructure at some grounds – Allianz park for example.

      Forth check out the work the clubs do within the community, hardly the first priority for a get rich quick merchant.

      Fifth compare the health of the Aviva clubs wih the Welsh and Scottish regions, what wouldnt the fans give if they could resurrect the old welsh and scottish clubs. In England we managed to save our clubs often with the help of these same club owners. I was amazed at the low attendance figures for the regions home games.

      Yes some of these guys have big, maybe even obnoxious, egos but are they any worse than the union sports politicians?.

  14. Oh I am listening.

    However I fear you may well be listening but from very much the wrong point of view and without an open mind.

    The English and French clubs compete in ERC competitions because their limp Unions negotiated a place for them. The fact that they now want out is very much their problem and no one elses, so please do not threaten the other Unions or try to come between the pro teams and the unions as they are trying to do.

    I am really fed up now of this self centered attitude that the English clubs have adopted and really do hope that the French dessert them leaving them out to dry.

    1. It is everyone’s problem. Everyone loses out if there is no competition. Some just lose more than others. The Anglo/French lose the least as they are least dependent on the revenue, but they are still losers (though even a less attractive Anglo/French cup may conceivably end up giving them more revenue than they currently get).

      It’s very sad, as there is a scenario where everyone wins and every day we get further from it.

      Pissing your pants to keep yourself warm isn’t a great idea, but that is what the Rabo unions are currently doing.

  15. Look I have no problem with the English doing what ever they want, the sooner they go and shut up the better.

    Create your own competition, I really don’t care.

    Just do not ruin the great game that is Rugby Union. It is after all a team game as is the organising of it, and when the school bully starts throwing his toys out of the pram because his slice of cake is not big enough, just say there, there now Johnny no Mates.

    1. I do actually care, I will not be happy or gloating if meaningful professional rugby ceases to exist in tier 1 rugby nations because a bunch of idiots (Anglo&French ones as well) couldn’t agree to play together.

      But if the turkeys vote for Christmas that may be the reality.

      I hope you don’t try and ‘bully’ the likes of Samoa out of world cup revenue to make up for the shortfall as was reported last week, with the Welsh ‘demanding’ a greater share of the spoils.

  16. Not quite sure what your great news is aimed at. I have just read the article and it appears that the remaining french clubs keen on joining the renegade English have decided to a bit of there own sabre rattling.

    I quote

    “It’s very clear – there will be the Rugby Champions’ Cup next season or nothing,” Ligue Nationale de Rugby chief Paul Goze told the Rugby Paper. “Some pretend they do not realise this.

    Clear to nobody but the English and their remaining French comrades.

    In addition the last sentance seems to sum up the official quality of this article.

    I quote

    “The Champions’ Cup is the only competition. It will be organised with the British and anyone who wants to join us. There are a lot of official discussions and informal talks. We feel there is real interest in this competition.”

    Well I feel this is a load of tosh.

    1. Looks legit to me Dai and I’ve also seen it reported elsewhere. Your appraisal of the article conveniently misses out the most salient point “The Rugby Paper says the six Unions that make up the Heineken Cup – Italy, Scotland, Wales, England, Ireland and France – have met in London and a “peace deal is in the process of being hammered out”. ” – so doesn’t look like a fluff piece to me, looks like the parties have got together and had a discussion. I think the wind has been blowing this way for some time.

      The Celts have been making noises that meritocratic Pro 12 qualification is actually desirable but perhaps with some tweaks (e.g. 1 guaranteed Scottish/Italian, 2 guaranteed Welsh/Irish) or maybe not, maybe we will go all out and have top 6/8 from the Pro 12. A lot of the players have come out in favour of the latter option.

      The Welsh regions are no fans of their union so it would not be a huge surprise if they were actively pushing for their union to just sort it out, with the requisite compromises, as the Welsh clubs don’t really feel that the offer on the table is that bad. And that’s the crux of it – it’s not a bad offer and it’s massively better than no Euro cup next year.

      1. Nicely put Brighty. The major hurdle was overcome when the unions agreed to meet outside the ambit of ERC. Since the celtic unions have already agreed the case for meritocratic qualification and adjustment of revenue sharing all that’s left is agreeing the detail. It should be possible to conclude a deal that everyone, well almost everyone, finds acceptable. Apart that is from the name. I can see that European Cup is not an option but surely we can do better than Champions Cup!

    2. Just cut and paste the bits that support your view why don’t you :-)

      If the following is true then I’m happy

      The Rugby Paper says the six Unions that make up the Heineken Cup – Italy, Scotland, Wales, England, Ireland and France – have met in London and a “peace deal is in the process of being hammered out”.

      It means all parties are sitting round a table having a discussion about a future competition. This is a big step forward from nobody discussing a competition that ceases to exist after this year, which is where we have been at.

      It’s not sabre rattling, it’s reality. Do I like the tone? No! But essentially LNR/PRL are just communicating a message that they aren’t going to attend the ERC meeting on 23/10 and the discussions on the future need to be held outside of that group.

      It’s time to accept the ERC is finished, and time to hope that these discussions produce an exciting format that involves teams from all unions, that is marketable and generates the maximum revenue for all participants. It would be ideal if some financial fair play rules are included and/or a min number of home union qualified players, but one step at a time …

Comments are closed.