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    Today’s Press

    Six Nations gather today to be put on a war footing</font>Paul Rees
    </font>Thursday April 12, 2007
    </font>

    Guardian</font>Officials
    from the Six Nations will today gather at a Heathrow hotel to be put on
    a war footing after the leading French and English clubs demanded a say
    in how the Heineken Cup is run but they will find the battleground
    deserted.</font>

    The
    meeting was hastily arranged after prompting from the International
    Rugby Board chairman, Syd Millar, who was concerned at the financial
    impact the end of the Heineken Cup would have on the Celtic nations. In
    a long, condemnatory statement he drew a parallel with 1998, when the
    English clubs pulled out of Europe, and accused them of trying to
    destroy European Rugby Cup Ltd.</font>

    "What
    next - a new Six Nations run by Premiership clubs?" he asked. Nine
    years ago the leading English clubs did covet international rugby which
    was, and is, hugely profitable. They were losing considerable sums of
    money, kept going only by private investors. In the 1998-99 season
    Bristol went into administration, Bedford struggled to pay players and
    both Richmond and London Scottish folded as professional sides at the
    campaign's end.</font>

    The
    picture is totally different in 2007. Most of the Premiership clubs are
    in profit and relegation is no longer a passport to bankruptcy. They
    have no designs on the international game. The clubs took the IRB to
    the European Court in 1998, arguing that its rules and regulations
    amounted to a restraint of trade.</font>

    "This
    is an attempt by the clubs to take control of the world game," said
    Fran Cotton, then a member of the Rugby Football Union, at the time.
    The heart of the Heineken Cup dispute is the refusal of some unions to
    give up their sovereignty and allow clubs jointly to run the
    competitions they play in.</font>

    Yet,
    back in 1998, the French government told the French Rugby Federation
    that elite clubs had to be allowed a measure of autonomy regarding the
    competitions they played in, such as being able to negotiate television
    and sponsorship rights, otherwise the FFR would be in breach of
    European law.</font>

    Nearly
    a decade on and what is the Heineken Cup row about other than a desire
    by French and English clubs to be allowed to take part in the
    tournament's television and sponsorship negotiations as shareholders
    and drive the tournament forward commercially? It is not about a grand
    design to take over the world game and there is no plan to challenge
    the IRB's authority by petitioning the European Court, even though some
    of the board's regulations, especially those regarding player release
    and cross-border fixtures, would probably not stand up to scrutiny.</font>

    The
    English system works financially. Premier Rugby and the Rugby Football
    Union have similar turnovers, with the latter getting an extra £7m a
    year when its hotel complex at Twickenham opens next year. The clubs
    have moved on from 1998 and any threat to the world game now will come
    from inertia by the unions.</font>
    <center>Guardian Unlimited © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007</font></center>

    #2
    Clubs hint at share deal to save Heineken Cup</font>

    Premiership prepared to sign seven-year accord RFU's Thomas salutes seismic shift in thinking</font>Paul Rees
    </font>Thursday April 12, 2007
    </font>

    Guardian</font>The
    Heineken Cup will carry on next season with England and France fielding
    teams in European club rugby's leading tournament even if their top
    sides refuse to take part, though the prospect of Premiership clubs
    remaining involved grew last night.</font>

    There
    were fears the cup would fold after last week's decision by Premier
    Rugby and Ligue Nationale de Rugby not to sign an accord to replace the
    expiring one , the English clubs protesting at the refusal of the Rugby
    Football Union to give them some of its shares on the organising body,
    European Rugby Cup Ltd.</font>

    Mark
    McCafferty, chief executive of Premier Rugby, said the clubs were
    prepared to sign a new accord, replacing the one which ends in 2009, as
    long as it was for seven years and allowed them a shareholding. He
    added: "We have no intention or desire to break away from the RFU but
    we accept that if, for whatever reason, we ceased to be in the
    competition, we could not hold on to the shares."</font>

    The
    RFU management board chairman, Martyn Thomas, said: "That is a seismic
    shift by Premier Rugby and addresses our key concern about handing over
    shares."</font>

    McCafferty
    attended a meeting of the ERC shareholders in Dublin yesterday as one
    of the RFU's two delegates but left before the board met in the
    afternoon. "I made a couple of proposals for the others to consider ...
    It would be wrong to say I am optimistic about Premiership clubs
    competing in Europe next season because we have reached the 11th hour.
    There is hope and the future of this great tournament should not hinge
    on whether we can agree a deal over player welfare with the RFU because
    that could take months."</font>

    If
    the Premiership clubs were not party to the new accord the RFU would
    invite six First Division clubs to take their place but while the
    French Rugby Federation vowed to field teams in the absence of their
    leading sides, it is not sure where it stands legally on issuing
    invitations to its second division.</font>

    Under
    French law the decision of a sporting body's president is binding. Last
    week the LNR president, Serge Blanco, refused to allow a vote to be
    taken by all its member clubs, which includes the French second
    division, after his board's decision to withdraw from Europe. A number
    of clubs and the FFR president Bernard Lapasset are exploring whether
    there is a way of overriding Blanco's edict that the ban is
    "non-reversible". LNR did not send a representative to Dublin yesterday</font>

    If
    the French remain on the outside the FFR will field regional teams.
    Blanco last night broke his silence after being blamed at the start of
    the week by the International Rugby Board chairman Syd Millar for
    bringing the Heineken Cup to its knees. "I have been defending the
    interests of clubs who have taken great risks in the last 10 years to
    increase their budgets ninefold and who today fear for their futures,"
    said Blanco. "The IRB ignores the clubs when they should be having
    dialogue with us over a number of issues. I find it tiring and you have
    the impertinence to ta

    Comment


      #3
      <div id="c&#111;ntent_wrapper">
      <div id="c&#111;ntent">
      @@@@SPAN id="news_c&#111;ntent"><h2>Door ajar for Euro rebels - WRU chief</h2>@@@@SPAN ="storytime">12/04/2007@@@@/SPAN>

      @@@@SPAN ="story">Welsh
      rugby chief Roger Lewis believes "the door remains open" for top
      English and French clubs to play in next season's Heineken Cup.

      Tournament
      organisers have vowed to press ahead with plans for a "European club
      rugby tournament" in 2007-08 – despite the damaging Anglo-French
      boycott.

      While European Rugby Cup shareholders have confirmed
      English and French participation, the flag could be flown by clubs like
      National League One sides Plymouth, Doncaster and Rotherham, rather
      than Leicester, Wasps or Gloucester.

      Currently, none of the 12
      Guinness Premiership clubs or leading French sides such as Toulouse,
      Stade Francais and Biarritz will play in the Heineken Cup and European
      Challenge Cup beyond this season. The existing tournament accord ends
      next month.

      But Welsh Rugby Union group chief executive Lewis
      said: "Ideally, we would like the Guinness Premiership and French
      Championship clubs to remain in the fold, and the door remains open for
      that possibility.

      "However, there is now a clear mandate for a
      European competition to take place next season and we will work as hard
      as possible to ensure it is a success.

      "This is a significant
      step forward from the gloomy picture that we faced last week with the
      announcement that the French and English clubs will boycott next
      season's Heineken Cup.

      "It was vitally important for the
      players, coaches and fans to know that there will be a European
      competition next season. That is the starting point for us all, as is
      the fact that each of the six participating unions has agreed to enter
      teams.

      "What will follow is the fine detail, but the Welsh regions can look forward to playing European rugby next season.

      "We
      have been here before in Europe. There were only teams from four
      nations in the first year, and we had to live without the English clubs
      in the 1998-1999 season, but the show went on and the Heineken Cup has
      grown in stature year on year as a result."

      A diluted European
      tournament would inevitably affect attendances and revenue, although it
      is understood existing broadcasters and sponsors might not to be turned
      off, provided there remains some kind of English and French
      participation.

      RFU management board chairman Martyn Thomas said:
      "We are delighted there will be a European club rugby tournament
      involving English clubs next season.

      "We hope that these will be
      from the Guinness Premiership and, as rugby's national governing body,
      we are committed to English club participation in the competition."

      The
      six unions – England, France, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and Italy – have
      proved determined to find a solution, while they also gained support of
      the International Rugby Board, whose chairman Dr Syd Millar launched an
      astonishing attack on the Anglo-French clubs earlier this week.

      The clubs claim the RFU have reneged on an agreement struck last autumn, something the Twickenham top brass flatly deny.

      Both
      Premier Rugby and their French counterparts Ligue Nationale de Rugby
      blame the RFU's refusal to pass half their ERC shares to the English
      clubs as the reason for their withdrawal.@@@@/SPAN>

      @@@@/SPAN>
      </div>
      </div>
      <!- ##### Footer ##### ->
      <div id="footer_wrapper">
      <div id="footer">© Rugby.ie / Thomas Crosbie Media@@@@SPAN id="year_date">2007@@@@/SPAN></div>
      </div>

      Comment


        #4
        <div id="c&#111;ntent_wrapper">
        <div id="c&#111;ntent">
        @@@@SPAN id="news_c&#111;ntent"><h2>Blanco hits back at Millar</h2>@@@@SPAN ="storytime">12/04/2007@@@@/SPAN>

        @@@@SPAN ="story">Serge
        Blanco has rejected the withering attack launched against him this week
        by International Rugby Board (IRB) chairman Dr Syd Millar, insisting
        his primary motive is not personal glory but safeguarding the future of
        the club game.

        In a powerfully worded statement released on
        Monday, Dr Millar slammed the "selfish" attitude of Anglo-French clubs
        following their boycott of Heineken Cups and European Challenge Cups
        beyond this season.

        He claimed French clubs chief Serge Blanco
        was "naïve", has shown a lack of respect towards other European clubs
        and said he could not understand how "one man should be allowed to
        bring European rugby to this state".

        Blanco, chairman of the
        Ligue Nationale de Rugby – the umbrella organisation of the top two
        divisions in France, has defended his role in the bitter stand-off.

        He
        claims he is simply protecting the rights of the clubs, and believes
        Millar should concentrate on his role as the "judge" of rugby.

        "Passion within rugby can push us all to excess," he said in a letter sent to Dr Millar.

        "But
        in this present case, certain parts of your statement of April 9 seem a
        verbal aggression, coming from a person who should normally be the
        judge of peace in the rugby world.

        "The demand of the clubs is
        perfectly legitimate and does nothing to justify what you have
        presented them as rebellious egoists."

        Both the LNR and their
        equivalent in this country, Premier Rugby, blame the Rugby Football
        Union's refusal to pass half their European Rugby Cup shares to the
        English clubs as the reason for their withdrawal.

        The
        Anglo-French clubs insist the RFU in January reneged on a deal struck
        last autumn, something Twickenham top brass flatly deny.

        "This breach of word is all the more incompehensible and unacceptable to the clubs," former France full-back Blanco continued.

        "We
        aren't demanding more money or that we should take the power, but
        simply that we should be recognised as a partner in the organisation of
        a competition which we participate in.

        "The base structures of professional rugby get the feeling they are being ignored.

        "The
        problems which are raised in this new professional sector have been
        going without a response for several years and that is tiring us."

        On his own involvement, Blanco said: "I like what I do, and I am getting no personal profit out of it.

        "You
        should know that I will always keep my way of thinking and expressing
        myself, whether or not I am linked directly with rugby."

        Blanco
        finished by saying Dr Millar should "resume your part as a judge, stop
        condemning and face the problems and the unspoken questions which are
        undermining our sport".@@@@/SPAN>

        @@@@/SPAN>
        </div>
        </div>
        <!- ##### Footer ##### ->
        <div id="footer_wrapper">
        <div id="footer">© Rugby.ie / Thomas Crosbie Media@@@@SPAN id="year_date">2007@@@@/SPAN></div>
        </div>

        Comment


          #5
          <div id="article">
          <h2>Euro club competitions to continue</h2>
          <div ="subarticle">
          By Graeme Mair -
          Created on 11 Apr 2007</div>
          </div><!-
          clubtext=
          channeltext=445670
          comptext=
          defaulttext=
          hlid=445670-><div ="NewsTeaser">


          <a href="http://www.skybet.com/skybet?acti&#111;n=GoEvEv&amp;id=10513702" &#111;nclick="" target="_new" target="_blank">HEINEKEN CUP BETTING
          Biarritz are favourites to win this year's Heineken Cup. Check out the latest odds at Sky Bet.</a>
          </div>

          <div id="articleRHS"><!-
          image path = http://images.skysports.com/images/ppics06_07/RugbyUni&#111;n/HeinekenCup/Heineken_Cup.jpg-><div ="articleImage"></div>
          </div>
          European Rugby Cup (ERC)insist there will be a a "European club rugby
          tournament" next season following a shareholders meeting in Dublin.

          The tournament will include teams from all six of the current
          participating nations - England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and
          Wales.

          The decision was taken despite the top clubs in France and
          England having stated they will boycott ERC's competitions - the
          Heineken Cup and European Challenge Cup - in 2007-08.

          Wednesday's meeting was attended by representatives from the
          six unions, England and Italian club representatives and a regional
          representative from Wales.

          The structure of next season's tournament is subject to further discussion among the ERC board members.


          As things currently stand, England's Guinness Premiership clubs
          and the leading French sides will not take part in any ERC organised
          competitions.

          The English clubs joined the boycott last week, citing the RFU's refusal to give them half of their shares in the ERC.


          Should no compromise be reached with the Guinness Premiership
          clubs, it means teams from National League One could represent England
          in Europe next season.

          In a statement, ERC said: "Following a meeting of ERC's
          shareholders in Dublin today (Wednesday), it was agreed that a European
          club rugby tournament will be staged in the 2007/2008 season, to
          include teams from all six of the current participating nations.


          "The structure of the tournament will be discussed and agreed by the ERC board in the coming weeks."


          RFU management board chairman Martyn Thomas welcomed the
          decision: "We are delighted there will be a European club rugby
          tournament involving English clubs next season.


          "We hope that these will be from the Guinness Premiership, and
          as rugby's national governing body, we are committed to English club
          participation in the competition."

          Comment


            #6
            <h1> ERC determined to save European Cup </h1>
            @@@@SPAN ="storyby">By Brendan Gallagher@@@@/SPAN>
            <div style="float: left;">@@@@SPAN ="d">Last Updated: @@@@SPAN style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">4:20am BST@@@@/SPAN>12/04/2007@@@@/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: Europe begins to shrink</td></tr></t></table>The
            serious talking is finally getting underway among the powerbrokers of
            European rugby to rescue the Heineken Cup. A series of meetings in the
            coming days should determine the issue.<table align="right" border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" ="0" width="207"><t><tr><td rowspan="2" width="8"></td><td width="199"><center></center></td></tr><tr><td ="capti&#111;n"><center>Determined. RFU rep Bill Beaumont met with the ERC </center></td></tr></t></table>
            The European Rugby Club (ERC) Board and shareholders began the process
            at their pre-scheduled meeting in Dublin yesterday - not attended by
            the French - and they again declared their intention of holding a
            European tournament next season in which representatives from the six
            nations involved will participate. Bill Beaumont, and John Dance
            attended for the RFU. ERC confirmed that details of the tournament will be decided at a later meeting which leaves the door open both for the "boycotting" English and French clubs
            to return to the fold or for the likes of Doncaster, the Cornish
            Pirates and Rotherham to represent England in the Heineken Cup. The ERC
            meeting also listened to Premier Rugby's chief executive Mark
            McCafferty who suggested expanding the competition to 26 clubs and
            including a knock-out round featuring the last 16 to increase the gate
            earning capacity. "We are delighted that there
            will be a European club rugby tournament involving English clubs next
            season," was the initial reaction of the RFU chairman Martin Thomas.
            "We hope that these will be from the Guinness Premiership and as
            rugby's national governing body we are committed to English club
            participation in the competition." Roger Lewis,
            chief executive of the Welsh Rugby Union and an ERC board director,
            echoed those sentiments: "It was vitally important for the players,
            coaches and fans to know that there will be a European competition next
            season. That is the starting point for us all, as is the fact that each
            of the six participating unions has agreed to enter teams.<!-MPU BLOCKED BY PAGE->"We
            have been here before in Europe. There were only teams from four
            nations in the first year and we had to live without the English clubs
            in the 1998/1999 season. But the show went on - and the Heineken Cup
            has grown in stature year on year as a result.
            "Ideally we would like the Guinne

            Comment


              #7
              <h1> Heineken's tour de force </h1>
              @@@@SPAN ="storyby">By Brendan Gallagher@@@@/SPAN>
              <div style="float: left;">@@@@SPAN ="d">Last Updated: @@@@SPAN style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">4:21am BST@@@@/SPAN>12/04/2007@@@@/SPAN></div>
              @@@@SPAN ="small">Millar lets All Blacks off hook
              Young England are put to the test
              @@@@/SPAN>
              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: Europe begins to shrink</td></tr></t></table>Rugby
              man, and particularly the English version thereof, has never happily
              denied himself the pleasure of mixing the sport with pleasure and
              travel - otherwise known as touring - so the possible demise of the
              Heineken Cup would be a savage blow indeed. Just to remind one and all
              exactly what is at stake here, this column, after much hazy cogitation,
              reveals its own top five all-time Heineken Cup venues and also lists
              those where an above-average run ashore was enjoyed over the past 12
              years.San Sebastian - and Spain don't even
              field a side in the tournament! God bless the Basques for populating
              this particular paradise and Biarritz for taking their big matches over
              the border. Not that sunny Biarritz is too shabby either. October and
              April were always the best months to drop in and enjoy this surfing
              Mecca. Not surprisingly the rugby rarely matched the setting, but
              frankly who cared?Brive - remember
              them? With Olivier Magne, Alain Penaud and Christophe Lamaison in full
              spate their side of the late 90s was as good as we have seen in Europe
              and the beautiful, sleepy, Cotswolds-style town a five-star venue for
              the gastronaut and rugby lover. Strangely Brive was also the scene of
              the two biggest punch-ups in Heineken history, on and off the field
              when Pontypridd came to town.Toulouse -
              more than one set of fans have painted the pink city red. A hard-core
              rugby venue, home to the aristocratic triple European champions and
              scene of possibly the greatest single performance in the Heineken Cup's
              history - Leinster's staggering demolition of the home side in the last
              season's competition. A pre-match tincture in Place Capitol is one of
              the great rugby pleasures.<div ="mpuad"><div ="adtxt">advertisement</div>< src="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/core/NetGravity/mpu.js" =""></div>Limerick
              - Munster's citadel and the "home of the spirit of rugby" according to
              the posters as you drive in from Shannon airport. They are not far
              wrong. The "Thomond experience" is

              Comment


                #8
                <h1 ="ing">European pledge offers hope for club tournament</h1><!- 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 ="article-author"><!- Print Author name from By Line associated with the article ->@@@@SPAN ="small">@@@@/SPAN>@@@@SPAN ="byline"> David Hands, Rugby Correspondent
                @@@@/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 ->


                The assurance from European Rugby Cup Ltd (ERC) last night, that there will be
                European competition next season involving participants from each of the Six
                Nations, will fool no one.



                After yesterday’s meeting of the ERC board and shareholders in Dublin, there
                remains no guarantee that the governing bodies of England and France will
                reach agreement with their leading clubs, who have threatened to withdraw
                from the Heineken Cup and the European Challenge Cup.



                But representatives of Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Italy were anxious to
                emphasise two points: that Europe is bigger than the internal affairs of any
                one country and that the door remains open for the Guinness Premiership
                clubs and the Top 14 clubs from France to return. “This is a significant
                step forward from the gloomy picture we faced last week,” Roger Lewis, the
                Welsh Rugby Union’s chief executive, said.



                “It was vitally important for the players, coaches and fans to know that there
                will be a European competition next season. That is the starting point for
                us all. We will work as hard as possible to ensure it is a success.”
                <!-#include ="m63-article-related-attachements."->


                This morning’s meeting of the Six Nations committee, near Heathrow, is
                expected to endorse the ERC statement, which said that the structure of the
                2007-08 tournament would be confirmed over the coming weeks.



                Whether this is sufficient to placate, for the time being, the concerns of
                existing sponsors and broadcasters remains to be seen since, as things
                stand, there is no long-term agreement in place to succeed the Paris Accord
                governing European competition that expires in July.



                Nor will there be until England and France sort out their own backyards: the
                essence, for the Premiership clubs, is an equal shareholding in Europe and a
                long-term agreement that rewards success in their own domestic competition.



                “We are delighted that there will be a European club tournament involving
                English clubs next season,” Martyn Thomas, the chairman of the RFU’s
                management board, said. “We hope that these clubs will be from the Guinness
                Premiership and, as rugby’s governing body, we are committed to English club
                participation in the competition.”



                If the ERC statement is less than explicit, that is because it is designed to
                box no faction into a corner. There were hints that the RFU and Premier
                Rugby Ltd (PRL) might reach a short-term agreement over an equal
                shareholding to last for two years — that is, the time remaining on the
                Long-Form Agreement between the union and the clubs. From the club side,
                there was an assurance that, were they to receive equal treatment but then
                withdraw from Europe in the future, their shares would revert to ERC.



                None of which is helpful to stabilising the Heineken Cup or the European
                Challenge Cup and the other four unions must be exasperated that their own
                development plans could be compromised. As Robert Howley, the fo

                Comment


                  #9
                  t's the European Cup - but not as we know it</font>
                  <table align="right" border="1" cellpadding="2" cellspacing="0" width="122"><t><tr>
                  <td>

                  Despite being in this year's semi-finals, it remains unclear whether Leicester will participate in next season's European Cup
                  </font></td>
                  </tr>

                  </t></table>


                  Thursday April 12th 2007</font>




                  RUGBY'S European Cup WILL go ahead next season - and Connacht could
                  play a part if the warring English and French clubs decide to continue
                  their boycott.


                  However, Irish rugby's financial woes may not be entirely eased as
                  big money sponsors such as Heineken may not continue their ties with
                  the competition while the leading English and French clubs maintain
                  their boycott.


                  The competition's leading French and English clubs have not yet
                  committed to take part next season and face a race against time to do
                  so as they get set for crucial talks.


                  Heineken, and SKY television, are more concerned about the lack of
                  high-profile English representatives next season as opposed to French
                  teams, as they wait to decide whether to maintain their multi-million
                  euro sponsorships.


                  However, while chances of the top French sides participating seem
                  more distant than ever, it does seem more likely that the big English
                  clubs, like this year's semi-finalists Leicester and Wasps will
                  participate.


                  "We are delighted that there will be a European club rugby
                  tournament involving English clubs next season," said English RFU
                  chairman Martyn Thomas, before significantly adding: "We hope that
                  these will be from the Guinness Premiership and as rugby's national
                  governing body we are committed to English club participation in the
                  competition."


                  Less likely


                  The French clubs seem less likely to bow to pressure from their
                  union, and the global game in general, as they didn't even deign to
                  send a representative to yesterday's crisis talks in Dublin.


                  However, an ERC statement doggedly persisted with their hope that
                  there would be some form of competition next season as they wait
                  helplessly for the ongoing impasse to be solved.


                  "Following a meeting of ERC's shareholders in Dublin today, it was
                  agreed that a European club rugby tournament will be staged in the 2007
                  / 2008 season, to include teams from all six of the current
                  participating nations," they said.


                  "The structure of the tournament will be discussed and agreed by
                  the ERC Board in the coming weeks. The ERC shareholder meeting was
                  attended by representatives from the six participating unions and club
                  representatives from England and Italy and a regional representative
                  from Wales."


                  The IRFU, although privately expressing some relief at yesterday's
                  events, prudently held their counsel as there are still weeks of
                  intensive discussions needed between the IRB and the French and English
                  clubs and unions.


                  The Welsh union, who face a similar financial meltdown if the
                  competition loses key sponsors and credibility, were abruptly keen to
                  acclaim what they perceived to be a significant breakthrough.


                  "This is a significant step forward from the gloomy picture that we
                  faced last week with the announcement from the French and English
                  clubs," said WRU chief executive Roger Lewis. "It was vitally important
                  for the players, coaches and fans to know that there will be a European
                  competition next season. That is the starting point for us all, as is
                  the fact that each of the six partic

                  Comment

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