IRB rows into Heineken Cup row by backing Europe-wide competition
THE International Rugby Board has entered the dispute over the future of the Heineken Cup by declaring its support for a Europe-wide tournament.
English and French clubs, seeking structural, qualification and financial changes to the competition, have stated they will establish their own format next season that teams from other nations were welcome to join.
But IRB chief executive Brett Gosper, speaking on the subject for the first time, insists all European nations must be involved.
"Our clear position is we support a full European competition and our desire is it's a bona fide European competition," he said.
"We are urging all parties to get together and find a resolution because we obviously believe it is in the interests of rugby to have a strong European competition. It's good for the clubs and good for the unions.
"Hopefully they are in a negotiation, some say they are, some say they aren't, but certainly we believe in a European competition and will support that outcome as much as we can."
Representatives of the 12 Aviva Premiership clubs are convening at a routine meeting in London today and Europe will dominate the conversation.
Among the talking points will be the decision by European Rugby Cup, who organise the Heineken and Amlin Challenge Cups, to hold the next round of negotiations on October 23.
The six-week wait for further discussions will have bemused Premiership Rugby, who have been frustrated by what they view as ERC's intransigence and are now no longer willing to work with the organisation.
The Rugby Football Union have been placed in a difficult position due to their interest in ERC and loyalty to the Premiership clubs, consequently adopting a careful public line that was maintained by chief executive Ian Ritchie yesterday.
Ritchie stated that any competition must include all European nations and is "optimistic" a compromise will be reached, but refused to "give up our negotiating position in public".