Booth: English clubs can win the big one
June 7, 2011
Toby Booth believes that an English club can win the Heineken Cup © Getty Images
London Irish coach Toby Booth believes that Northampton's run to last season's Heineken Cup Final proves that it is still possible for an English club to win Europe's top prize.
The Saints were beaten 33-22 by Leinster in May's Millennium Stadium finale, amid further groans that Premiership clubs have an uphill struggle against the might of the Irish provinces and French clubs.
The regular complaints emanating from England centre around the ability of Magners League sides to regulate their players' workloads and the larger salary cap available to French clubs.
Booth, however, believes the Saints' presence in the Final and the number of English qualifiers proves the Premiership remains a force to be reckoned with. His side have been drawn alongside Cardiff Blues, Edinburgh and Racing Metro in Pool 2.
"Without question the Heineken Cup has got harder than ever to win," he said. "The Premiership's getting harder year on year and in general rugby's improving. Look at the Irish sides and the way they monopolise the tournament.
"They have various playing resting aspects that makes them very tough to compete against. It's the competition we all aspire to be in so we have to roll up our sleeves and get on with it.
"The fact Northampton reached the final of the Heineken Cup proves that English teams are still capable of winning it. What also bodes well is that we have seven English teams in there, more than any other country.
"That highlights the fact the Premiership is still a very competitive league, but at some point an English team must break the mould and actually win it."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
England broke their losing streak, but this was not them clawing their way back among the best, writes Tom Hamilton
Wales were just 13 minutes from a famous victory, but the lessons to be learned in defeat are almost exactly the same as those from previous near-misses, writes Huw Richards
Ahead of England's clash with Samoa, Scrum Sevens takes a wander down memory lane and celebrates seven examples of Pacific Islands magic
England must find a way to improve their game by tiny margins and they will get there, writes Phil Vickery