French clubs do not want ERC breakaway
French clubs have no intention of setting up a new European Rugby competition with their English counterparts despite serving notice to withdraw from the Heineken Cup.
English and French clubs have stated their intention to withdraw from the competition when the current accord ends in 2014 because they believe the current format favours Celtic Nations.
Currently 24 teams compete in the Heineken Cup with the top three sides in Ireland, Scotland and Wales qualifying automatically, regardless of where they finish in the RaboDirect PRO12 and English and French clubs want this amended.
They have called for the competition to be restructured with the amount of teams reduced from 24 to 20 with the top six qualifying from the PRO12, Top 14 and Premiership with the defending champions and Amlin Challenge Cup winners also going through.
French National Rugby League (LNR) Vice President Patrick Wolff claims they have come under serious pressure from English clubs to form a breakaway tournament, but he has made it clear they want to continue playing the European Cup.
“The English put a lot of pressure on us in the past few months to accept the idea of an alternative Franco/Anglo club competition almost like it was a condition before discussing anything else,” he told AFP.
“That we did not want to do.
“Save a catastrophic failure at the negotiations, which I don’t think will happen, we want to play with the Celts and with the English.
“For us, there is a product (the European Cup). This product must be improved at the negotiations.
“We wish that everything will be resolved by the end of the year. Rugby has no interest in being swept up in uncertainty during two years.
“It is imperative that everyone structures things properly in their own country.”
Premiership Rugby Limited, the body representing the English clubs, appeared to signal the death knell for the European Cup when it announced it had sold the television rights to their domestic competition and European Games to BT Vision.
However, it would appear the deal is in breach of International Rugby Board (IRB) regulations and an ERC board mandate.by: Michelle, September 18, 2012