Premiership Rugby assured Top 14 clubs remain loyal to breakaway

Premiership Rugby have received assurances from the LNR, at a meeting in Paris on Wednesday, that the Top 14 clubs remain loyal to the breakaway Rugby Champions Cup, according to The Telegraph. This news comes despite the story yesterday that the FFR had offered the French clubs a very attractive deal to stick with the ERC-backed Heineken and Amlin Challenge Cups.

The meeting in Paris was the latest in a series since September designed to discuss the logistics of the new tournament, and was said to have been relaxed and productive.

Interestingly, one club source said: “We have 30 of the 38 clubs in Europe signed up for Rugby Cham­pions’ Cup. No one can force anyone do something they don’t want to.”

The Welsh regions are also thought to remain on board, despite the meeting today in Dublin of representatives from the French, Welsh, Irish, Scottish and Italian unions – not, notably, the RFU – to discuss revised versions of the current Heineken and Amlin formats.

The decision not to invite the RFU is thought to have caused considerable consternation at Twickenham, given the mediating role CEO Ian Ritchie has played in negotiations thus far.

Progress was thought to be on the cards last month, after the unions agreed to two 20-team tournaments with a more meritocratic qualification structure. However, the key stickling point that remains is the unions’ desire to keep the tournaments under the auspices of ERC, with the clubs insisting they will have nothing to do with tournaments run by them.

So much rests on today’s meeting in Dublin, although once again it is a meeting that does not involve all interested nations – let alone all interested parties.

What do you make of these developments? Is progress being made, or is the gap widening?

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

8 thoughts on “Premiership Rugby assured Top 14 clubs remain loyal to breakaway

  1. A competition run by the English and French clubs will presumably be run for the benefit of the English and French clubs, which would constitute a cold house and most likely a slow death for the other nations. As an Irishman, I have zero interest in seeing such a competition replace the Heineken Cup. The ERC is far from perfect, but at least with an administrative body taking charge of the running of the tournament, there is at least the hope that it would act as an even broker. Listening to what has been said by the likes of McCafferty and Wray in recent times, I would have zero expectation of the English clubs acting as any kind of even broker. In fairness, how could anyone expect them to? English clubs will want to do what’s best for English clubs, as will the French, and it would be naive to expect anything else. That’s precisely why, to non-English and non-French fans, the prospect of a competition run by the clubs feels like a death sentence.

    I sincerely hope the FFR hold the line on this and the money they’re dangling in front of their clubs breaks the Anglo-French alliance. If the speculation on the terms of the BT Sport deal is correct, then the deal it made with the English clubs will fall. I have a lot of respect for English rugby fans, but the noises coming from those at the top of the club game have been so arrogant and condescending in recent times that there would be a lot of people in Ireland and elsewhere who would look on with something close to glee if the English plans imploded and they found themselves exiled from European competition for a while.

    Phew! Rant over!

  2. Mark, as per the other thread on this, this isn’t about nationalism, its about the intrinsic set ups of the clubs (or rather the “teams” in each country).

    I cannot speak for a whole nation, but I am pretty sure that the majority of English and probably even French rugby fans, do not want to see a “part-european” competition. Nor a French/English competition, and especially not a European competition without the English.

    The truth is of course, that if the latter were to occur, whilst there would inevitably be considerable schadenfreude form the non English quarters, no-one would benefit from this, and the rational thinkers in the other nations know this is not good for the european game.

    1. Well, yeah, it’s not about nationalism (I have little interest in wrapping myself in any flag), but it’s difficult to skirt the national issue on this, as it’s very much at the heart of it. I agree that the ideal scenario is a pan-European competition along the lines we’ve had for the last 15 or so years (barring the 1998/99 English absence) and most likely no competition is tenable beyond the very short term without all the component parts.

      But there is a lot of anger over here arising from how we perceive the English clubs have played this out (and don’t even get me started on the RCC cheerleading from so much of the English press). More or less everything the English and French wanted has been offered to them by the ERC, except the governance issue, and as you allude to in the other thread, that’s most likely a cover for the real bugbear of the competing tv deals. That the English clubs negotiated a tv deal for which the game plan involved effectively hijacking the European game and threatening the Celtic clubs with financial oblivion if they don’t get on board… well, I don’t think arrogance even begins to cover it.

      1. Everything was offered Mark, 16 months after the English and French had handed in their notice to leave. I’m sure had this been on the table in the first place they wouldn’t have left.

        I can not stand the smug, self righteous, preaching and gloating type statements that have come out of some of the mouths of the premiership chiefs. It’s been detrimental to finding any solution with everyone involved as equal partners (whoever runs it). Though I can’t however blame them for getting on with, or attempting to at least, setting up their new competition. Of course this needs a lot of beating of the drum and fanfare to generate interest, so don’t hold that aspect against them.

        I’m sadly resigned to there not being a pan-European competition next year and dismayed that we are going to end up with a scenario where everyone loses.

  3. I hope that the clubs manage to break away.

    This is nothing against any nation, but against the unions. The unions have Lways wanted control of the game more than the growth of rugby. The fact is international rugby can’t generate much more money and the club game cannot grow if the unions prevent it any kind of independence.

    The BT contract has given the clubs the chance to run themselves, I really hope they take it, the unions, like the FFR, will throw cash at them, to try and by them out. This would be short-term gain and long term loss for the clubs.

    I also hope that the welsh, italian, scottish, and irish clubs follow the lead and start to generate their own money. Any business has to stand in its own merits not be helped constantly by others, if that is what one does then it is a slow economic death.

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