SRU Chief Executive Mark Dodson, speaking at yesterday’s Heineken Cup launch in Scotland, said that the SRU has no fear of entering into a new European competition that would see Scottish teams have to qualify on merit, rather than being guaranteed of their places, as is the case at the moment.
“We cannot be frightened of it,” Dodson said. “I’m not frightened of making sure that we can qualify into a merit-based competition. We would prefer to have one club guaranteed but the fact of the matter is that if we are going to compete in Europe and be serious about the Heineken Cup then we have to have teams that can play at that standard.”
The ERC remains hopeful that the Heineken Cup can be saved, despite PRL and LNR’s insistence that they are not interested in any more negotiation. The launch of the Rugby Champions Cup would see a European competition run by the clubs, rather than the unions, for the first time. Dodson, however, remains hopeful that the Heineken Cup, in its current guise, can be saved – and headed by the ERC.
“If the ERC had been a failure, you would think about moving on. But when you look at the track record of success, why would you want to ditch a tournament that the fans love, the players love, and is growing in value year on year?
“What it might need is a certain amount of tweaking to make it even better and fairer and more equitable, but I’m certain the Heineken Cup is where we should be.”
Overall, it is an intriguing statement, given the previous stance taken by the unions – i.e. staunchly against any of Premier Rugby and LNR’s proposals. It is perhaps a sign at last that some form of compromise might be possible.
Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images