English steeled for Euro boycott
English clubs are almost certain not to play European rugby next season because of the continuing crisis surrounding the Heineken Cup, according to Premier Rugby chief executive Mark McCafferty.
Last Thursday, when the Ligue Nationale de Rugby announced that the French clubs were pulling out of the proposed Rugby Champions Cup, it appeared McCafferty's stance was softening and he was considering a return to the 20-team tournament recently proposed by the unions of Wales, Ireland, France, Scotland and Italy.
But McCafferty adopted a hard-line stance last night as he prepared for a meeting with the English clubs this week to discuss the crisis.
"That's the most likely outcome," he said, when asked whether English clubs would not play in Europe in 2014-15. "It's the clubs' call on that, but from my perspective I can't see at the moment how it would be feasible for us to be in 2014-15 European competitions, if the unions, as they have said, are going to run a 20-team competition through ERC."
There is known to be genuine concern within the English game that, with no European rugby next season, some of the smaller clubs might suffer financially.