ERC chief criticises 'guerrilla' tactics
September 17, 2013
Could Toulon be the penultimate winners of the Heineken Cup as we know it? © Getty Images
European Rugby Cup Ltd (ERC) boss Jean-Pierre Lux has lashed out at the proposed breakaway club tournament saying the Anglo-French clubs are using "guerilla" tactics in the ongoing row over the future of the Heineken Cup.
Lux, who is the chairman of ERC - the body in charge of the Heineken Cup - has said Premiership Rugby (PRL) and Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR) are showing an unwillingness to compromise and went on to reject any notion that the Anglo-French Cup suggested by PRL can ever become a reality.
The row over the future of the Heineken Cup intensified last week with PRL declaring it felt talks regarding the future of European's tournament were at an end and it planned to form a new club-run competition alongside its French counterparts LNR for next season. ERC responded by insisting all stakeholders were keen in finding a compromise within the current Union-run format but PRL has since reiterated plans for a breakaway cup.
And Lux says clubs must find "compromise" if talks are to advance. "There were meetings up to the beginning of June. Since then everyone has been waiting for someone else to make the first move to kick-start the negotiations," Lux told AFP. "We received letters from the English and French leagues a few weeks ago that had a decidedly guerrilla spirit to them.
"When I hear the English and French leagues denouncing Celtic intransigence, we could also reply that those two leagues don't want to change their positions. We need to find a compromise to advance."
And Lux says the Rugby Football Union, who must ratify any new tournament along with their French counterparts and the International Rugby Board, will not support the new competition. Lux added: "It's not possible. I went to a meeting last week where the chief executive of the RFU Ian Ritchie and the president Bill Beaumont clearly said they had told their clubs there would be no new competition.
"Pierre Camou (president of the French Rugby Federation) has clearly indicated in France for some time that there will never be a Anglo-French competition, he's against it. All the federations hope that ERC continues to run the (European) competitions."
And Lux has warned Scottish and Italian sides run the risk of losing out if he plans for the new European tournament come to fruition. He said: "Going from 24 to 20 clubs in the European Cup means the Scottish and Italian teams would lose out.
"I've been told it would improve the level of the Challenge Cup (as that would move from 20 to 24 teams) but I remain sceptical because we're asking for those four teams to come solely from the Celtic League. I would prefer all the leagues to make an effort."
When asked about the Scottish position on the ongoing talks, a spokesperson for the Scottish Rugby Union told ESPN: "Following the ERC board meeting last week, discussions remain on-going concerning the future structure of European Cup competitions.
"Scottish Rugby will continue to support these discussions positively with a view to achieving a resolution."
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