Parties close in on European settlement
February 17, 2014
Back on track in Europe? © PA Photos
European clubs and unions are close to agreeing a deal which will end the long-running dispute over the future of European rugby.
The Rugby Paper reported at the weekend that the proposed agreement is based around a new Swiss-based organisation and will be played under the banner of the Rugby Champions' Cup, an Anglo-French plan supported by the four Welsh regions.
If the proposal is agreed then it will signal the end for the Dublin-based European Rugby Cup Ltd. The new body will have its home in Geneva where there are considerable tax advantages.
The new tournament will be formed of the top six of the English and French Leagues plus seven from the Pro12 - including the highest-ranked team from Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales. The 20th place will be reserved for one extra team from the country of the winner.
Revenue would be divided equally between the Aviva Premiership, the Top 14 and the PRO12.
The news follows reports on Friday that the main remaining obstacle to a settlement - the stand-off over TV rights between BSkyB and BT Sport - is close to being resolved after a fortnight of talks spearheaded by RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie.
The deal is likely to see the establishment of a committee comprising one member from each of the leagues to decide on commercial deals such as the title sponsor.
The Rugby Paper quoted an unnamed administrator as saying: "We haven't got a solution yet but we have taken a huge step forward. Attitudes have changed, not least among the Unions who realise that they were in some trouble with their Sky contract. There's an increasing recognition that those running the English clubs and the Welsh regions are not a bunch of gold-diggers but people who love rugby and want to run a better competition.
"The prospect of peace in Europe is good news. Having said that a lot of Welsh supporters will say it isn't because it will prevent an Anglo-Welsh League from happening."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Huw Richards profiles French forward Walter Spanghero, a man who even rugby's hard men thought was a tough nut
"To be part of the Commonwealth Games, I'd wear anything. I'd wear a clown suit." Tom Hamilton talks to Scotland's Sean Lamont
Scrum Sevens looks back at how rugby has fared in both the early Olympics and the past four Commonwealth Games
"Cheika's been phenomenal. He gives you an incredible level of mental strength." Tom Hamilton talks to Waratahs star Jacques Potgieter