Hore sounds warning over European threat
July 20, 2012
Irish clubs have won five of the last seven Heineken Cups, with Leinster the most recent winners © Getty Images
Andrew Hore has hit out at the English and French club's threat to boycott the Heineken Cup at the end of the 2013-14 tournament and warned that it would be 'disastrous' for the European game.
English and French clubs want a reorganisation of Europe's premier club competition as they claim it unfairly favours the RaboDirect Pro12 clubs and so have served notice of their decision to boycott both the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup if changes are not made.
The English and French clubs claim that teams from the RaboDirect Pro12 have an unfair advantage as they are not forced to qualify for the Heineken Cup in the way that clubs from the Premiership and Top 14 are. They also believe that a streamlining of the competition would weed out the weaker clubs from the Celtic nations and Italy, who in turn would develop better in the Amlin Challenge Cup.
"If anything happened to the Heineken Cup it would be disastrous," Hore told South Wales Evening Post. "It is hard to overstate how important it is. If the English and the French are trying to improve the competition then let's talk to them. But if they are trying to suit themselves, or trying to bring about change for the betterment of their pockets, then that's a concern. I'm sure the powers-that-be will have those conversations and we just have to sit back and watch this space. But it's important that we have a unified Europe."
The English and French clubs want a competition featuring 18 teams, six from each of the Aviva Premiership, RaboDirect Pro12 and French Top 14, plus the winners of the two trophies. It would mean that there are four less teams than are currently involved, who would play in a revamped Amlin Challenge Cup along with clubs from Georgia, Spain, Portugal and Russia. Leinster and Munster have won five of the last seven Heineken Cups, while Ulster reached this year's final. The last French side to win the trophy was Toulouse in 2010, while Wasps was the most recent English winner in 2007.
"It would be bad news for everyone if this went beyond threats being made," Hore said. "Players and coaches love this competition and so do supporters. Toulouse and Leicester are coming to the Ospreys next season and all of us have a spring in our step. We can't wait for those matches. "We want to play the best. There is a maturity about us now that means we want to test ourselves. Getting out of the pool is hugely important, but it's also great to match ourselves against two crack European teams. The tournament is great for the fans, too, because of the fixtures. Hopefully, common sense will prevail because these competitions are too important to lose."
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