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?
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