Tony Ward: European stand-off turning into farce
I am no more privy to what went on at Wednesday's European Rugby Cup Board meeting in Dublin than anybody else, but the thrust of the subsequent statement issued by the ERC indicates a very different perception to that being generated by the French (LNR) and English (Premiership Rugby).
From the outside looking in, it would appear that if Peter Wheeler (Premiership Rugby) and Rene Bouscatel (LNR) are selling their respective leagues an unmitigated dummy. However, I don't believe that for one second, so the impression that 'all is dandy and we are singing off the same hymn sheet' would be hilarious if only the consequences of a European breakdown hadn't such dire consequences.
The angry response of LNR president Paul Goze, when he reiterated that French clubs will not be participating in an ERC-run tournament next year, takes it almost into the area of farce.
On all available evidence there are two stances – the ERC, the Celtic nations and Italy are kicking to touch for as long as they can, while the LNR and Premiership Rugby want a decision now. It would seem the source of the Anglo-French angst is with the ERC.
At any rate, this is a problem and we're still rooting for the ERC to come up with an 11th-hour solution to save the best club tournament in the world.