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    Simple problems drawn out into a mess that will bring joy only to Belgian lawyers</font>Eddie Butler
    </font>Sunday April 8, 2007
    </font>

    Observer</font>Good
    old Belgium, eh? As has not often been said in rugby circles. But it
    appears that, all along, the feuding parties in the Heineken Cup have
    been heading for Charleroi, or at least the European court that will
    rule on the test case involving the Belgian football club.</font>

    And
    the issue? Who controls footballers, club or country? And then apply it
    to English rugby. Because this is what the rugby row is all about -
    control of the meat.</font>

    It
    remains fundamentally quite simple. The clubs want more money for
    rearing and releasing the bloodstock for international duty. They also
    want to be allowed to run the commercial side of the competitions in
    which they participate.</font>

    These
    are the not unreasonable demands of organisations that were dropped
    without warning into professionalism a dozen years ago. The struggle
    for survival made the clubs chippy. Now that they are successful, they
    are punchy, too.</font>

    The
    RFU want to retain control of the international game. It's what
    governing bodies do - run the elite end in order to fund their sport
    all the way down the pyramid, not just to the professional clubs but to
    the shires and grassroots beneath.</font>

    Commercial
    authority over the whole game is allied closely to moral authority.
    Rugby still fears it is a contact sport a mere clenched fist away from
    meltdown. The reins have to be held tight. To cede control would be to
    yield power to those that would win at all costs.</font>

    The
    answers, too, are simple. Of course the clubs should have more
    commercial responsibility. They have earned the right, having
    transformed the presentation and the development of their product. They
    have done especially well, despite all the scaremongering about the
    effects of professionalism, to keep the game wholesome. Spillages into
    illicit violence are well within tolerance.</font>

    And
    of course the RFU should run the England team. However big the party
    was in Leicester when they were back-to-back champions of Europe, it
    was nothing compared with the celebrations that went with England
    becoming champions of the world in 2003. For such an achievement to be
    repeated, the England players must be available in block bookings to
    the national coaches.</font>

    Somehow
    the solutions elude those that feud. And into the English confusion
    have dropped the French, dragging the Heineken Cup with them. Simple,
    if protracted, problems have become mazes.</font>

    And
    now we are to have a boycott of the competition that has kept us going
    through all the squabbling. Born on the same day as the row began
    between the clubs and the RFU - that is, on day one of the professional
    age - the Heineken Cup has been every bit as sparkling as the dispute
    has been dispiriting.</font>

    Arriving
    at Blagnac airport in Toulouse in 1996 to find the place plastered in
    posters announcing: 'Stade Toulousain, Champions d'Europe' dispelled
    any fears that this new tournament was not going to have any clout. The
    performance of Brive in the one final Leicester lost, the

    #2
    English and French clubs frozen out over Cup boycott</font>Paul Rees
    </font>Saturday April 7, 2007
    </font>

    Guardian Unlimited</font>The
    English and French clubs who voted to boycott the Heineken Cup face the
    wrath of the International Rugby Board, which has ordered unions
    throughout the world not to sanction matches with them.</font>

    The
    Celtic unions fear a financial fallout if Premier Rugby and Ligue
    Nationale de Rugby go ahead with the boycott, and the Scottish Rugby
    Union yesterday said that the future of the professional game north of
    the border was at stake. The heads of the French and English unions
    held a conference call yesterday to discuss tactics ahead of
    Wednesday's Dublin board meeting of European Rugby Cup Ltd.</font>

    The
    Rugby Football Union's management board chairman, Martyn Thomas, said
    he was determined to ensure the Heineken Cup went ahead next season. He
    will meet First Division Rugby officials on Tuesday to discuss the
    prospect of second- tier clubs replacing Premiership sides in the
    event. The French Rugby Federation president, Bernard Lapasset, and the
    chief executive of the Professional Rugby Players' Association, Damian
    Hopley, have off ered to broker talks between the RFU and Premier Rugby.</font>

    "I
    have had positive talks with FDR and we will sit down next week," said
    Thomas. "It is essential to keep the competition going in some form and
    there is still time for Premier Rugby to return to the table. The IRB
    is extremely concerned at what has happened this week and is reminding
    unions of their responsibilities. What we are talking about is the
    whole ethos of the world game. Who governs it: the board, through its
    unions, or the clubs?"</font>

    The
    Premier Rugby chief executive, Mark McCafferty, will also be at the ERC
    board meeting. He maintained that it was not too late to save the
    tournament . "I have a couple of proposals to put before the ERC
    board," said McCafferty. "Even though LNR said their decision was
    non-reversible, I would try to persuade them to come back in if we
    could agree a deal next week which would see the unions and clubs
    become equal partners. "The IRB seems to think we are going to try and
    go off to places like South Africa to play, but that is complete
    nonsense. We are not looking to try to run the game: we just want to be
    treated as equals rather than told what to do.</font>

    "The
    Board is conducting a major review of the international calendar, but
    we have not been invited to take part in the process even though
    whatever decision is reached will impact on our businesses. What we
    want is for both the international and club games to be strong, not for
    one to succeed at the expense of the other."</font>

    Sponsors
    and broadcasters were yesterday waiting to see what unfolded before
    deciding whether to keep backing ERC. Thomas accepted that fielding
    National League One clubs instead of the likes of Leicester and Wasps
    would weaken the event. But, he said, "If English involvement would
    keep the competition going for a year, it would be worth it."</font>

    McCafferty
    said that if FDR clubs stepped in, Premier Rugby would react. "The RFU
    would be excluding us from a new tournament and they would have no
    right to stop us from arranging alternative matches, but it does not
    have to come to that. We are not a threat to the IRB

    Comment


      #3
      <h1> Why I can no longer recognise the game I loved </h1>
      @@@@SPAN ="storyby">By Paul Ackford, Sunday Telegraph@@@@/SPAN>
      <div style="float: left;">@@@@SPAN ="d">Last Updated: @@@@SPAN style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">11:45pm BST@@@@/SPAN>07/04/2007@@@@/SPAN></div>
      Have your say
      Read comments

      <table summary="" align="center" border="0" cellpadding="2" cellspacing="2" width="100%"><t><tr bgcolor="#ffffff"><td ="mediumtxt" colspan="1">Mick Cleary blog: Central issue</td></tr></t></table>This
      week my belief in the integrity of rugby finally collapsed. The sport
      used to mean something for me. It represented values I cherished. It
      may sound hopelessly romantic and old-fashioned but to be involved with
      a rugby club, to play in a team, was to experience loyalty,
      reliability, friendship and trust. True, when I started, the sport was
      also predominantly middle-class, divisive (think of the antipathy
      towards rugby league) and privileged, but time and professionalism have
      rounded most of those rough edges. Unfortunately, time and
      professionalism have also eroded the more attractive characteristics.This piece should have been about the latest twist in the never-ending swirl of claim and counter-claim about who or what is responsible for the demise of the European Cup
      and where the future lies. But, frankly, why bother? To get that
      information I have to talk to the power brokers in the clubs and the
      Unions and no one believes what they have to say. Self-interest,
      dressed up as "what is good for The Game", rules the day.I
      can't even rouse myself to anger any longer; at the intractability of
      the factions representing club and country in England; at Rob Andrew's
      inability to sort a problem he is being paid handsomely to solve; at
      the Scottish Rugby Union's decision to shut down Borders, one of their
      professional teams, leaving only one owned and run by the Union; at
      Serge Blanco, president of the French clubs, holding the rest of Europe
      to ransom; at the likelihood of yet more legal action to sort out this
      unholy mess; at the pathetically inadequate statement issued by
      European Rugby Cup Ltd, who are meant to lead, which read: "ERC has
      noted the public announcement made following the meeting of the Board
      of the LNR (Ligue Nationale de Rugby) in Paris and the subsequent
      statement by Premier Rugby Ltd on Thursday, April 5. These
      announcements will be considered at meetings of ERC's Shareholders and
      ERC's Board of Directors in Dublin on Wednesday and Thursday, April 11
      and 12"; at the potential for damage to the regions in Wales who are
      financially imperilled by French and English selfishness; at the
      arrogance of denying fans the opportunity to follow their teams across
      Europe in what everyone agrees is a fabulous competition; at the
      duplicity which now exists everywhere at every level.I'm
      not advocating a return to the state of affairs which existed a
      generation ago. The game is so much more attractive now than the stodgy
      fare which occurred then. Go to a Premie

      Comment


        #4

        <div>@@@@SPAN> From @@@@/SPAN>@@@@SPAN>The Sunday Times@@@@/SPAN></div><div><!- this will be populated from CMS ->
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        <no><!- END: Module - Advert:Top -></no></div><div> April 8, 2007</div><h1>Titans of Europe?</h1><h2>The Heineken Cup impasse could lead to lower-tier sides like Rotherham filling the breach</h2><!- END: Module - Main ing -><!-CMA user Call Diffrenet Variati&#111;n Of Image ->

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        The prospect of clubs such as Rotherham, Doncaster and Plymouth Albion
        representing England in the Heineken Cup next season, playing against giants
        such as Munster and the Ospreys, is moving nearer.



        In a move guaranteed to widen the rift between the Rugby Football Union (RFU)
        and Premier Rugby (PRL), the body that represents the Guinness Premiership
        clubs, Martyn Thomas, the chairman of the RFU, is pursuing the option to
        have National League One teams fill the void left by the withdrawal of the
        top clubs. A substantial war chest of more than £5m will be available to try
        to bring the first division teams, some of which are semi-professional, up
        to speed. England have six berths in next season’s competition.



        While reiterating that his door is still open for talks with PRL, Thomas says
        the RFU will do everything in its power to ensure there is English
        representation in next season’s Heineken Cup. “If this situation is not
        resolved, the RFU owes it to the sport to keep this competition going,” he
        said. “We have spoken to our FDR [National League One] clubs, and if they
        want to compete we will support them. It will not have the same commercial
        value, but we hope the broadcast-ers [Sky TV] and the sponsors [Heineken]
        will stay with it.”



        Thomas added that £5.5m of central revenue could become available to fund FDR
        clubs, plus extra revenue from the home pool games. This would be used to
        strengthen the squads, though there would still be the prospect of
        humiliation if even an augmented Division One team had to go to Munster,
        Leinster, the Ospreys or even Edinburgh.


        <!-#include ="m63-article-related-attachements."->


        The measure would almost certainly require the hiring of football stadiums. Of
        the top six clubs in National League One — Leeds Tykes, Rotherham Titans,
        Doncaster, Cornish Pirates, Plymouth Albion and Bedford, as the weekend
        began — only Leeds have a sizeable stadium, although their likely promotion
        to the Premiership would rule them out of the Thomas plan.



        Geoff Cooke, the FDR chief executive, said that he suspected the FDR clubs
        would treat any RFU overtures favourably. “We have got some very ambitious
        clubs, and it is just a question of money, because they have the catchment
        populations,” he said.



        Cooke’s response will cause fury among the PRL clubs, a clear majority of whom
        have agreed to uphold the concept of relegation and promotion, partly with
        an eye to fulfilling aspirations of FDR’s investors.



        Ironically, an England entry from below the top echelon could involve
        amalgamated clubs or even quasi-regional teams, a concept hated by PRL
        clubs,

        Comment


          #5
          <h1>
          Jonathan Davies: We might just need this vision of hell to bring the game to its senses










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          </h1>


          <h2>
          Standard of Cup should not be compromised to prove a point
          </h2>




          <h4>
          Published:08 April 2007
          </h4>




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          We can only hope that the destruction of next season's Heineken Cup
          will cause enough panic and explode enough egos to force the spirit of
          peaceful co-existence to descend on the warring factions of rugby.







          It may be a naïve hope considering the snarls being hurled across
          no-man's land this weekend but the alternative doesn't bear thinking
          about.


          If the threats of legal action turn into reality, the nightmare
          scenario is that we'll see a breakaway of French and English clubs to
          form a rebel league that could afford to lure the top stars from the
          southern hemisphere as well as the cream of Europe.


          The International Rugby Board would retaliate by banning them from
          representing their countries and the future of quality international
          rugby would be in jeopardy.


          Perhaps it will take such a vision to bring everyone to their
          senses. Perhaps we needed a crisis to bring all the agendas out into
          the open and there's no better competition than the Heineken Cup to
          create one.


          It is right up there with the Super 14s as the most thrilling
          tournament in the world. Players I speak to would much prefer to play
          in it than in their leagues. I'm sure the fans welcome the extra
          dimension it gives to the season. If you had to choose a battleground,
          there's none better to guarantee the rapt attention of the audience.


          If you had to choose a time, then a World Cup season is ideal. The
          biggest tournament of all invariably causes disruption, not only while
          it is in progress but afterwards when the best players in the world are
          recovering from their exertions.


          The politics are too complicated to go into, even if you could
          understand them, and I don't know what to make of the reasons Serge
          Blanco gave for the decision of the French clubs to withdraw.


          But I do appreciate that it was going to be a problem for the French
          clubs to accommodate the hosting of the World Cup in their fixtures.
          The league is their bread and butter, very well supported and
          sponsored, and it wouldn't be wise to risk disrupting it.


          If the English clubs hadn't decided to add their boycott, I am sure
          we could have coped with the absence of French clubs for a season.
          After all, we are coping without them in this season's semi-finals.


          In one of their threatened counter-moves, the RFU plan to approach
          the second rung of English clubs and offer them places in a reduced
          Heineken Cup. Clubs like London Welsh, Cornish Pirates, Earth Titans
          and whoever gets relegated from the Premiership this season would, it
          was felt, be able to contrib

          Comment


            #6
            <h1>
            Battle of Europe: Barwell gives the RFU both barrels










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            </h1>


            <h2>
            Saints' outspoken chairman claims the governing body have no intention of doing a deal
            </h2>



            <h3>
            By Tim Glover, Rugby Union Correspondent
            </h3>


            <h4>
            Published:08 April 2007
            </h4>




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            Roll up, roll up for the latest instalment in the nail-biting,
            teeth-grinding, ulcer-inducing journey of Northampton RFC. As rides go
            it has been not so much a roller-coaster as a season ticket on the Big
            Dipper and this afternoon at Newcastle Keith Barwell will be there.
            "I'm always there," he said.







            A week ago he was in San Sebastian, along with 800 Saints supporters in
            a crowd of 32,000, to witness a result that almost proved the age of
            miracles is still alive and kicking. On Easter Sunday at Kingston Park
            they are looking for another sign.


            In his book of prophecies, Nostradamus would not have given
            Northampton, down among the dregs in the Guinness Premiership, a prayer
            in the Heineken Cup quarter-final against Biarritz. The bookmakers had
            the French club so massively odds-on that they were unbackable; the
            Saints, who won 7-6, were 10-1 but nobody wanted to back them, not even
            Barwell.


            "I wasn't tempted and I'm a betting man," he said. "That's sport. It
            was a fantastic result. The players made up their minds to go out and
            enjoy themselves and in a professional game they always think they can
            win. I'm very proud of them. It's been a tough season."


            After three hours' sleep and suffering from a "mild form of
            alcoholic poisoning", Barwell flew back to attend a meeting of the
            heads of the Premier clubs, otherwise known as Twelve Angry Men, who
            voted 12-0 to follow the French in a boycott of next season's Heineken
            Cup.


            "I am enormously disappointed in the Rugby Football Union," Barwell
            said. "Upsetting the English clubs is par for the course but now they
            have upset everybody."


            The clubs want an equal shareholding in Europe with the unions and
            control over the deals which they believe will result in greater
            income. The RFU accuse them of breaking agreements and are threatening
            legal action, shattering what has been a phoney peace.


            "They can ban us or sue us but the fact remains that the Heineken
            Cup we signed up to is not the same without the French. It's a terrific
            competition and we are not asking to run it. Last October the RFU
            agreed in principle to our proposal and when they went back on it the
            French went barmy.


            "The RFU are very good at shifting chairs. Why do you think 12
            chairmen unanimously supported France? Because we're seriously fed up.
            We've got hawks and doves, and Nigel Wray [the Saracens owner] is a
            dove but even he thinks he's wasting his time. The RFU have no
            intention of doing a deal. We accept t

            Comment


              #7

              One, two, three, four . . . the wheels fell off the Irish wagon</font>



              Sunday April 8th 2007</font>




              IT WAS the former British Labour Prime Minister, the late Harold
              Wilson, who, at the height of what turned out to be his final political
              crisis famously used the phrase "a week is a long time in politics" to
              indicate just how quickly public mood can change, and with it the
              destiny of a pollitical leader.


              And it was one of his Tory predecessors, Harold Macmillan, who,
              when asked a few years earlier what shaped that destiny, declared dryly
              "events, my dear boy, events".


              The month of March, ushered in as it was with the warm afterglow of
              that never-to-be-forgotten trouncing of England at Croke Park, surfing
              the crest of a triumphant wave through Murrayfield and Rome, garnering
              a Triple Crown and so nearly a Championship along the way. Off the
              pitch, the long awaited findings of An Bord Pleanala in relation to the
              development of Lansdowne Road were the perfect way to confirm the
              impression that Irish rugby truly was on one helluva roll.


              And so we settled down to finish off the month with two
              quarter-finals of the European Cup, neither of which were easy, both of
              which, it was assumed, should be OK. Even if we lost either Leinster or
              Munster en route, the investment in those tickets for the Twickenham
              final in May was stiil looking like a good move.


              Enter Llanelli. Enter London Wasps. Events, my dear boy, events.
              Two solid defeats, deservedly inflicted by two superior teams, and one
              wheel is off the wagon.


              Meanwhile, Serge Blanco has a long history of breaking the hearts
              of his opponents. He has now succeeded in doing so again, this time in
              the corridoors of power from where the European Cup is administered.
              The French and English clubs pull out of the 2007/2008 Heineken Cup
              competition and the second, third and fourth wheels are off the Irish
              wagon.


              For the second time in ten years, Wanderers FC, one of the founder
              clubs of the IRFU in 1874, takes legal action against the parent body.
              Not only has the wagon been derailed, but now the cargo is being
              pilfered.


              So where to from here? Let's take the easy one first. The decent,
              reasonable gentlemen among the membership of Wanderers (and there are
              many) should get a grip of what is going on in their club, and
              particularly the serial litigants. Their club's distinguished history,
              cited as it was in a recent press release, deserves nothing less.


              The apparent demise of the European Cup is a difficult one to
              assess. It must be remembered, though, that this is not the first time
              since its inception that we have arrived at this juncture. Indeed, the
              English boycotted the inaugural competition, an act they repeated in
              1999/2000. Now they appear to have done it again, this time in
              association with the French. There is still a lot to play for here, and
              the game is not over, not by a longshot.


              As I indicated last week, I strongly believe that reports of the
              imminent demise of Munster Rugby are, indeed, grossly exaggerated.
              Having chased the Holy Grail of European success around the continent
              for the best part of a decade, they finally caught up with their
              destiny last season.


              Retention was always going to be a much bigger challenge
              altogether, and so it proved. Shorn of O'Connell and Payne and
              confronted by an opposition apparently modelled on themselves, they
              came a cropper.


              But no team in the competition learns more in defeat and it will be
              fascinating to see the various combinations Declan Kidney tries in the
              Magners League run-in, and particularly their activity in the transfer
              market. Make no mista

              Comment


                #8

                Originally posted by Fly_caster
                <div>@@@@SPAN> From @@@@/SPAN>@@@@SPAN>The Sunday Times@@@@/SPAN></div><div><!- this will be populated from CMS ->
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                <!- For Travel Search -><!- Modified key value pair for tiles ->
                <no><!- END: Module - Advert:Top -></no></div><div> April 8, 2007</div><h1>Titans of Europe?</h1><h2>The Heineken Cup impasse could lead to lower-tier sides like Rotherham filling the breach</h2><!- END: Module - Main ing -><!-CMA user Call Diffrenet Variati&#111;n Of Image ->

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                Ironically, an England entry from below the top echelon could involve
                amalgamated clubs or even quasi-regional teams, a concept hated by PRL
                clubs, distrusted historically by England rugby fans, broadcasters and
                sponsors, but never ruled out by the RFU. It might be that Plymouth, Exeter
                and Cornish Pirates could form some kind of southwest conglomerate (Exeter
                have a superb new stadium) and Nottingham, Coventry and Bedford a Midlands
                outfit. “We are in uncharted waters, but we’ve got to think about
                amalgamations, and about clubs who might want to strengthen their squads,”
                said Thomas.
                Doesn't sound like a bad idea - might bring some of these fools to their senses ?

                Comment


                  #9

                  Originally posted by Fly_caster
                  <div>@@@@SPAN> From @@@@/SPAN>@@@@SPAN>The Sunday Times@@@@/SPAN></div><div><!- this will be populated from CMS ->
                  <!- BEGIN: Module - Advert:Top ->







                  <!- For Travel Search -><!- Modified key value pair for tiles ->
                  <no><!- END: Module - Advert:Top -></no></div><div> April 8, 2007</div><h1>Titans of Europe?</h1><h2>The Heineken Cup impasse could lead to lower-tier sides like Rotherham filling the breach</h2><!- END: Module - Main ing -><!-CMA user Call Diffrenet Variati&#111;n Of Image ->

                  <!- BEGIN: Module - M24 Article line with no image (a) -><!-set value for print friendly -><!- getting the secti&#111;n url from article. This has been d&#111;ne so that correct url is
                  generated if we are coming from a secti&#111;n or topic -><!- Print Author name associated with the article -><div id="main-article"><div><!- Print Author name from By Line associated with the article ->@@@@SPAN>@@@@/SPAN>@@@@SPAN> Stephen Jones and Nick Cain
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                  The whole affair has revealed with brutal clarity the weaknesses of the
                  domestic rugby systems of Ireland, Wales and Scotland. The professional
                  teams in those countries cannot exist in their current form without a proper
                  Heineken Cup and without a strong playing relationship with the English and
                  French clubs. No wonder the game at large is so furious. Damian Hopley,
                  chief executive of PRA, the professional players’ union, spoke for all his
                  members on Friday and, certainly, for millions of other rugby followers as
                  well. Hopley has offered to facilitate a meeting between the RFU and PRL to
                  try to end the impasse.
                  Has anybody told Jones et al that we used to play rugby here for a very long time before the HEC ? Also, that the English &amp; French clubs are just as reliant on games between them and the Celtic clubs ?


                  Typical of the high-brow Engerlish "Who But Us" attitude.

                  Comment


                    #10

                    Originally posted by Fly_caster
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                    Of
                    course, the Heineken Cup is not perfect. The seeding system creates
                    some odd groups of four. Northampton, for example, had Biarritz, the
                    Borders and Overmach Parma in Pool 6, while London Irish, more
                    demandingly, faced Toulouse, the Scarlets and Ulster in Pool 5. The
                    qualification process that allows the two best runners-up through to
                    the last eight is weighted heavily in favour of those teams with an
                    Italian side in the group. And to have a 'neutral' semi-final in the
                    land of the side drawn first out of the hat is not right.</font>


                    In a nutshell, we need to get rid of this system &amp; bring in 4
                    groups of 5 or 4 groups of 4 with top 2 qualifying. The best runner up
                    may add ecitement but it is blatantly unfair on the teams unfortunate
                    enough not to have an easy group.



                    Neutral semi should mean that. OK a draw should decide on the home
                    country but the "away" team should be able to veto (within reason) any
                    proposal made by the "home" team. If for example Munster are drawn away
                    to Toulouse, they could insist on playing the match in Paris. Toulouse
                    playing in Toulouse brings the tournament into disrepute. It's a
                    complete farce.
                    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again (like picking Gordon D'Arcy) and expecting different results.
                    Albert Einstein

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by Fly_caster
                      Originally posted by Fly_caster
                      <DIV>@@@@SPAN>From @@@@/SPAN>@@@@SPAN>The Sunday Times@@@@/SPAN></DIV>
                      <DIV><!- this will be populated from CMS -><!- BEGIN: Module - Advert:Top -><!- For Travel Search -><!- Modified key value pair for tiles ->
                      <NO><!- END: Module - Advert:Top -></NO></DIV>
                      <DIV>April 8, 2007</DIV>
                      <H1>Titans of Europe?</H1>
                      <H2>The Heineken Cup impasse could lead to lower-tier sides like Rotherham filling the breach</H2><!- END: Module - Main ing -><!-CMA user Call Diffrenet Variati&#111;n Of Image -><!- BEGIN: Module - M24 Article line with no image (a) -><!-set value for print friendly -><!- getting the secti&#111;n url from article. This has been d&#111;ne so that correct url is
                      generated if we are coming from a secti&#111;n or topic -><!- Print Author name associated with the article ->
                      <DIV id=main-article>
                      <DIV><!- Print Author name from By Line associated with the article ->@@@@SPAN>@@@@/SPAN>@@@@SPAN>Stephen Jones and Nick Cain @@@@/SPAN></DIV></DIV><!- END: Module - M24 Article line with no image -><!- Article Copy module -><!- BEGIN: Module - Main Article -><!- Check the Article and display accordingly-><!- Print Author image associated with the Author-><!- Print the of the article-><!- Paginati&#111;n ->


                      Ironically, an England entry from below the top echelon could involve amalgamated clubs or even quasi-regional teams, a concept hated by PRL clubs, distrusted historically by England rugby fans, broadcasters and sponsors, but never ruled out by the RFU. It might be that Plymouth, Exeter and Cornish Pirates could form some kind of southwest conglomerate (Exeter have a superb new stadium) and Nottingham, Coventry and Bedford a Midlands outfit. “We are in uncharted waters, but we’ve got to think about amalgamations, and about clubs who might want to strengthen their squads,” said Thomas.

                      Doesn't sound like a bad idea - might bring some of these fools to their senses ?

                      The European Cup is about the best club teams from the competing Nations playing one another. What is being proposed is a mickey mouse competition that will do huge damage in the long run. We will get no thanks for PRL or the Top 14 clubs for being involved in such a tournament as we will be siding with the REU against PRL.


                      Whatever happens there will be a solution in 12 months time. The Top 14 and PRL will certainly be part of it. We want to be part of it too and not just see an Anglo French Cup. At the end of the day once the RFU get what they want from PRL they will do a deal with them on European Competition and they will not be worried about our interests.


                      If the boycott stays we should concentrate on the ML and anything else available from Italy and the Celtic Nations and await the return of the real European Cup. I have little doubt there will be a place for us in such a competition as long as we are not seen to take the side of the RFU now.

                      Comment


                        #12

                        Originally posted by glorob
                        Originally posted by Fly_caster
                        Originally posted by Fly_caster
                        <div>@@@@SPAN>From @@@@/SPAN>@@@@SPAN>The Sunday Times@@@@/SPAN></div>
                        <div><!- this will be populated from CMS -><!- BEGIN: Module - Advert:Top -><!- For Travel Search -><!- Modified key value pair for tiles ->
                        <no><!- END: Module - Advert:Top -></no></div>
                        <div>April 8, 2007</div>
                        <h1>Titans of Europe?</h1>
                        <h2>The Heineken Cup impasse could lead to lower-tier sides like Rotherham filling the breach</h2><!- END: Module - Main ing -><!-CMA user Call Diffrenet Variati&#111;n Of Image -><!- BEGIN: Module - M24 Article line with no image (a) -><!-set value for print friendly -><!- getting the secti&#111;n url from article. This has been d&#111;ne so that correct url is
                        generated if we are coming from a secti&#111;n or topic -><!- Print Author name associated with the article ->
                        <div id="main-article">
                        <div><!- Print Author name from By Line associated with the article ->@@@@SPAN>@@@@/SPAN>@@@@SPAN>Stephen Jones and Nick Cain @@@@/SPAN></div></div><!- END: Module - M24 Article line with no image -><!- Article Copy module -><!- BEGIN: Module - Main Article -><!- Check the Article and display accordingly-><!- Print Author image associated with the Author-><!- Print the of the article-><!- Paginati&#111;n ->


                        Ironically, an England entry from below the top echelon could involve amalgamated clubs or even quasi-regional teams, a concept hated by PRL clubs, distrusted historically by England rugby fans, broadcasters and sponsors, but never ruled out by the RFU. It might be that Plymouth, Exeter and Cornish Pirates could form some kind of southwest conglomerate (Exeter have a superb new stadium) and Nottingham, Coventry and Bedford a Midlands outfit. “We are in uncharted waters, but we’ve got to think about amalgamations, and about clubs who might want to strengthen their squads,” said Thomas.

                        Doesn't sound like a bad idea - might bring some of these fools to their senses ?

                        The European Cup is about the best club teams from the competing Nations playing one another. What is being proposed is a mickey mouse competition that will do huge damage in the long run. We will get no thanks for PRL or the Top 14 clubs for being involved in such a tournament as we will be siding with the REU against PRL.


                        Whatever happens there will be a solution in 12 months time. The Top 14 and PRL will certainly be part of it. We want to be part of it too and not just see an Anglo French Cup. At the end of the day once the RFU get what they want from PRL they will do a deal with them on European Competition and they will not be worried about our interests.


                        If the boycott stays we should concentrate on the ML and anything else available from Italy and the Celtic Nations and await the return of the real European Cup. I have little doubt there will be a place for us in such a competition as long as we are not seen to take the side of the RFU now.
                        Disagree entirely, it is vital that we stand fully behind the RFU, even if means destroying the current basis for club rugby in england and france. This is about more than self interest, this is about the future of the game.
                        Karma

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by Dave Cahill
                          Originally posted by glorob
                          Originally posted by Fly_caster
                          Originally posted by Fly_caster
                          <DIV>@@@@SPAN>From @@@@/SPAN>@@@@SPAN>The Sunday Times@@@@/SPAN></DIV>
                          <DIV><!- this will be populated from CMS -><!- BEGIN: Module - Advert:Top -><!- For Travel Search -><!- Modified key value pair for tiles ->
                          <NO><!- END: Module - Advert:Top -></NO></DIV>
                          <DIV>April 8, 2007</DIV>
                          <H1>Titans of Europe?</H1>
                          <H2>The Heineken Cup impasse could lead to lower-tier sides like Rotherham filling the breach</H2><!- END: Module - Main ing -><!-CMA user Call Diffrenet Variati&#111;n Of Image -><!- BEGIN: Module - M24 Article line with no image (a) -><!-set value for print friendly -><!- getting the secti&#111;n url from article. This has been d&#111;ne so that correct url is
                          generated if we are coming from a secti&#111;n or topic -><!- Print Author name associated with the article ->
                          <DIV id=main-article>
                          <DIV><!- Print Author name from By Line associated with the article ->@@@@SPAN>@@@@/SPAN>@@@@SPAN>Stephen Jones and Nick Cain @@@@/SPAN></DIV></DIV><!- END: Module - M24 Article line with no image -><!- Article Copy module -><!- BEGIN: Module - Main Article -><!- Check the Article and display accordingly-><!- Print Author image associated with the Author-><!- Print the of the article-><!- Paginati&#111;n ->


                          Ironically, an England entry from below the top echelon could involve amalgamated clubs or even quasi-regional teams, a concept hated by PRL clubs, distrusted historically by England rugby fans, broadcasters and sponsors, but never ruled out by the RFU. It might be that Plymouth, Exeter and Cornish Pirates could form some kind of southwest conglomerate (Exeter have a superb new stadium) and Nottingham, Coventry and Bedford a Midlands outfit. “We are in uncharted waters, but we’ve got to think about amalgamations, and about clubs who might want to strengthen their squads,” said Thomas.

                          Doesn't sound like a bad idea - might bring some of these fools to their senses ?

                          The European Cup is about the best club teams from the competing Nations playing one another. What is being proposed is a mickey mouse competition that will do huge damage in the long run. We will get no thanks for PRL or the Top 14 clubs for being involved in such a tournament as we will be siding with the REU against PRL.


                          Whatever happens there will be a solution in 12 months time. The Top 14 and PRL will certainly be part of it. We want to be part of it too and not just see an Anglo French Cup. At the end of the day once the RFU get what they want from PRL they will do a deal with them on European Competition and they will not be worried about our interests.


                          If the boycott stays we should concentrate on the ML and anything else available from Italy and the Celtic Nations and await the return of the real European Cup. I have little doubt there will be a place for us in such a competition as long as we are not seen to take the side of the RFU now.

                          Disagree entirely, it is vital that we stand fully behind the RFU, even if means destroying the current basis for club rugby in england and france. This is about more than self interest, this is about the future of the game.

                          Dave


                          My concern is that the RFU will over the next year sort out their differences with PRL over International Players etc. Once this happens they will also do a deal with them on Europe or an Anglo French Cup. We, or Rugby in the Celtic Nations will not be too high on the RFU's list of priorities and obviously we do not feature on PRL's or the Top 14's list..


                          Let them have their blood bath and we can then play with whoever emerges.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            It doesn't matter what the RFU do or don't do within the confines of their remit, if english clubs want to play games outside of the already existing tournaments they need IRB approval. This will not be forthcoming without the celtic nations being appeased.

                            Karma

                            Comment


                              #15


                              Originally posted by Dave Cahill
                              It doesn't matter what the RFU do or don't do within the confines of their remit, if english clubs want to play games outside of the already existing tournaments they need IRB approval. This will not be forthcoming without the celtic nations being appeased.

                              Not quite correct I believe.


                              If teams from 2 countries want to play a friendly only the home Unions of the 2 Clubs involved are required to consent.


                              I would also think that if PRL sort out their differences with the RFU and the Top 14 are facilitating the FFR then with the FFR and RFU behind them IRB approval will be forthcomming for any tournament backed by those 2 Unions.


                              Comment

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