Breakaway Champions Cup runs into troubleENGLISH hopes of establishing a breakaway Rugby Champions Cup looks to be doomed after Irish, French, Scottish, Italian and Welsh Rugby Unions met and agreed yesterday to go ahead with the Heineken Cup in season 2014/2015.
The English Rugby Union were frozen out from yesterday's 'summit', leaving The Premiership clubs outside the agreement.
This means the English clubs are not likely to participate in European competition in 2014/2015 as long as they continue to pursue options that do not fall in line with the other international unions.
The key to discussion has been the option taken by the French Federation and the International Rugby Board to lend their weight to four other participating Unions.
Effectively, the changes initially agreed to appease the English and French unions at mediation discussions in late October have been retained.
There will be a 20-club Heineken Cup, merit-based qualification and a change in the split of finances as agreed by the six unions in answer to the English and French clubs demands.
"All five Unions believe that it is critical to the interests of the game in Europe that the Unions are at the heart of the governance of cross-border club competitions given that rugby in each country is organised in a pyramidical structure," the Unions said. The Unions joint-statement issued four central points of agreement:
(1) A European club competition is to take place during the 2014/2015 season following an optimized sporting and economic format with 20 teams.
(2) The competition will be driven by the European Rugby Cup Ltd which will remain in charge of the centralised sale and management of all commercial rights, amongst other things.
(3) Discussions over governance will be pursued in order to optimise the internal functioning of the ERC.
(4) The common aim is to move eventually towards the integration of European competitions within all-encompassing European rugby framework.
Premiership Rugby responded to the unions' position by reconfirming their intent to launch the Rugby Champions Cup: "Premiership Rugby notes the statement issued concerning the proposed new European club rugby competitions for the 2014/15 season.
"There is no detail concerning the teams involved or the competition format given the absence of so many teams. The English and French clubs served notice on ERC and its competitions on 1st June 2012 and the required notice period concludes after the end of this season when the Accord will terminate.
"Today's announcement would appear to indicate that the latest negotiations have been ended, as was the case in September 2013. As a result, we shall continue to implement the plans under way for the Rugby Champions Cup with the declared participants in time for the 2014-15 season."