Sunday 18 March 2018

McCafferty claims 'outside' interest high

Mark McCafferty, Premiership Rugby's chief executive
Mark McCafferty, Premiership Rugby's chief executive

Gavin Mairs, London Daily Telegraph

Premiership Rugby claim they have already received declarations of interest from other European clubs to join the new Anglo-French tournament they propose to set up to replace the Heineken Cup next season

The revelation comes just a day after the Celtic and Italian representatives on the board of the European Rugby Cup Limited – the governing body of the Heineken and Amlin Challenge Cups – had insisted that none of its teams would consider joining the new tournament.

Mark McCafferty, Premiership Rugby's chief executive, said, however, that he had received informal interest from clubs from more than one European country and from outside Europe after revealing the controversial plan in a joint declaration with French clubs this week.

The English and French sides say they have "left the door open" for other European clubs to join the tournament, which will require support from both the Rugby Football Union and French Federation de Rugby to go ahead under International Rugby Board regulations.

"People have approached us informally – I can't go beyond that at this stage," McCafferty said. "We have also had interest from outside of Europe. People recognise that it could be a very strong competition and want to be part of that."

The RFU, which was taken by surprise by the announcement, have yet to declare their position, despite hearing a presentation from Premiership Rugby at a meeting in London on Wednesday night.

McCafferty, however, insisted the clubs were determined to push ahead with preparations for the new tournament and will present draft schedules and regulations to the club owners and shareholders of the 12 Premiership clubs at a meeting next Wednesday.

France's National Rugby League president Paul Goze also reiterated that French sides would not participate in the Heineken Cup next year.

Wasps wing Tom Varndell, meanwhile, has been ruled out for up to four months after tearing his biceps during training on Wednesday. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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