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    Latest on the Blanco / ERC debate

    @@@@SPAN id="news_c&#111;ntent"><h2>RB and unions challenge clubs over boycott threat</h2>@@@@SPAN ="storytime">13/04/2007@@@@/SPAN>

    @@@@SPAN ="story">By Barry Coughlan
    THE
    six major rugby unions in the northern hemisphere and the governing
    body, the IRB, yesterday threw down a defiant challenge yesterday to
    English and French clubs who have threatened to boycott the Heineken
    Cup.

    The IRB determined that the governance of the game must
    rest with them and the national unions as the elected guardians of the
    game at all levels.

    In the process, they sent a strong
    message of intent to the rebel clubs in England and France who have
    threatened to wreck the future of the Heineken Cup and, perhaps, the
    professional game in the northern hemisphere.

    At a meeting in
    London yesterday, the six Unions unanimously supported the decision
    taken the day before by the shareholders of ERC that the European Rugby
    Cup will take place next season, and that all six participating Unions
    will provide teams.

    Further, the meeting also confirmed the establishment of a new five-year ERC participation agreement.


    This agreement will see the six Unions as shareholders and will be
    based on club participation in France, England and Italy and provincial
    and regional participation in Ireland, Wales and Scotland.


    Each national Union will have the right to invite teams from within its
    territory to participate in the ERC according to its own participation
    criteria.

    It will be up to each Union to decide how it wishes
    to structure its shareholding and financial arrangements with its
    participating teams.

    The Unions, said a spokesperson, look
    forward to working with the clubs, provinces and regions in promoting,
    marketing and developing the ERC competition.

    "The Unions
    believe the English Guinness Premiership and French Ligue Nationale de
    Rugby (LNR) clubs should participate in the tournament next season.


    "Rugby has seen tremendous growth over the last 12 years but has still
    some way to go to establishing an enduring financial base," said the
    spokesperson, who went on to emphasise that no other new tournaments
    will be sanctioned by the six national unions and IRB.

    The
    English and French Unions have offered to meet the representatives of
    the clubs from both countries in the coming days, but it's clear from
    yesterday's statements that the hierarchy will not tolerate any
    breakaway groups, even if former French international Serge Blanco has
    rejected the withering attack launched against him this week by
    International Rugby Board (IRB) chairman Dr Syd Millar.


    Blanco entered another war of words by 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.


    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.@@@@/SPAN>@@@@/SPAN>

    #2

    <h1>Millar set to meet Blanco on debate over Europe</h1><!- END: Module - Main ing -><!-CMA user Call Diffrenet Variati&#111;n Of Image ->

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    Syd Millar, the chairman of the IRB who launched a vitipurative attack on the
    leading clubs in England and France on Monday after their withdrawal from
    next season’s European competitions, will be invited to meetings with club
    representatives.



    Though, in England’s case, the invitation and facilitation will come from the
    RFU, it is what the Guinness Premiership clubs themselves have asked for. A
    similar meeting between Millar and the Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR) will
    be organised by the Fédération Française de Rugby after yesterday’s meeting
    near Heathrow of the Six Nations council and IRB representatives.



    That will bring Millar face to face with Serge Blanco, the LNR president who
    was the main object of the IRB chairman’s criticism: “You should resume your
    part as a judge, stop condemning and face the problems and the unspoken
    questions which will undermine our sport,” Blanco said in a letter to Millar.



    The Six Nations council wants a five-year agreement over European competition
    which falls between the RFU’s offer of agreement with their clubs for two
    years and Premier Rugby Ltd’s hope for seven years: “The unions believe the
    Guinness Premiership and LNR teams should participate in the tournament next
    season,” a statement read.
    <!-#include ="m63-article-related-attachements."-><!- End of paginati&#111;n -><!- ality for Comment :START-><!- ality for Comment ->
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    Comment


      #3
      <div ="line">
      Warring parties set for Cup talks
      </div>












      The top English and French clubs look set to meet the chairman of the
      International Rugby Board in a bid to resolve the Heineken Cup row.






      The six unions have
      agreed to take part next season but Anglo-French clubs will only enter
      second tier teams unless they get more say in the competition.






      The Anglo-French clubs' refusal to play has incensed IRB chief Dr Syd Millar.











      But the Rugby Football Union and their French counterparts believe a meeting could help the parties to a compromise.









      <div ="bo">






      The decision to try to get the parties together was taken at a meeting
      of the six major European unions and the IRB in London on Thursday.

      The unions still want England's top clubs, who are
      represented by Premier Rugby (PRL), and their French counterparts
      (LNR), to take part in the tournament next season.






      Welsh Rugby Union group chief executive Roger Lewis remained bullish on the continuation of a European club competition.











      But he hoped that an agreement with the leading English and French clubs could still be reached over their participation.











      "The mandate for a European cup competition to take place next season is now firmly established," Lewis said.











      "Fans, players, sponsors and the media can now be confident and in no doubt that a competition will take place.











      "It is also clear that the door is still wide open for discussions with the Guinness Premiership and French Championship clubs."







      The clubs are boycotting the Heineken Cup because they are in dispute
      with the RFU over its refusal to grant England's clubs shares in the
      tournament.

      On Monday IRB chairman Dr Syd Millar called the clubs
      "selfish" and said French clubs chief Blanco was "naive", prompting the
      Frenchman to respond that the statement was "verbal aggression".






      Blanco added that Millar should "stop condemning, and face the problems which are undermining our sport".


      </div>



      Story from BBC SPORT:

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/spo...ugby_union/654 9745.stm



      Published: 2007/04/12 17:23:09 GMT



      © BBC MMVII

      Comment


        #4
        <h1>
        Legal fight likely after IRB dig in on European Cup










        @@@@SPAN ="starrating">


        @@@@/SPAN>

















        </h1>




        <h3>
        By David Llewellyn
        </h3>


        <h4>
        Published:13 April 2007
        </h4>




        <div ="Copy">
        <div ="article">










































        <div style=": ; top: 284px; visibility: visible;" id="article" ="ad">

























        </div>








        </div>
        <div id="CopyC&#111;ntent">





        The International Rugby Board last night adopted a hard-line approach
        as they backed the six European Unions in their attempt to ensure that
        a cross-border club competition would continue for the next five years.








        The IRB's insistence that governance of the game remained with it and the
        national unions was aimed at the rebel English and French clubs who have
        announced they are to boycott next season's European Cup.




        The IRB's statement was unequivocal: "The unions are the only bodies
        set up to achieve just that. The unions do not want to be confrontational
        but will do what it takes to secure the game's future."




        The initial reaction of Premier Rugby Ltd (the umbrella organisation for the
        12 Premiership clubs) indicated that a long and probable legal battle lies
        ahead.




        Mark McCafferty, the chief executive of PRL, said last night: "Although
        I haven't yet spoken to the clubs, I am pretty sure that they will see this
        as a direct attack on the club game. This looks as if it is headed in the
        direction of the law courts."




        Any lingering hopes that PRL and Ligue Nationale de Rugby, the umbrella
        organisation of the French clubs, may have harboured of being given, as of
        right, an equal shareholding in European Rugby Cup Ltd were dashed.




        The IRB insisted that a split of the shareholding would remain within the
        gift of individual unions.




        Significantly, the statement also reiterated that no other cross-border
        competitions will be sanctioned, thereby scuppering the possibility of an
        Anglo-French tournament to fill the blank weekends of the European boycott.




        The Premiership strugglers Worcester will be without Craig Gillies for
        Sunday's crucial match at London Irish after the lock was last night banned
        for two weeks after pleading guilty to two charges of stamping against
        Bristol last weekend. Gillies will be free to play again on 27 April, in
        time for the final round of matches in the Premiership.




        England winger Jason Robinson is braced for an emotional final appearance
        for Sale Sharks when they take on Bath at Edgeley Park tonight.




        Robinson, 32, said: "It will be an emotional occasion, saying goodbye
        to the supporters at the game.




        "They have followed us loyally over the last seven seasons, and I
        wanted my last club game to be at Edgeley Park to say goodbye."






        </div>
        </div>

        Comment


          #5
          Board's tough line infuriates boycott clubs</font>Paul Rees
          </font>Friday April 13, 2007
          </font>

          Guardian</font>Premier
          Rugby is taking legal advice after the Six Nations, spurred on by the
          International Rugby Board, yesterday issued a strongly worded statement
          reaffirming the role of unions as the governors of the game and
          emphasising the inferior standing of clubs. The Six Nations signed a
          new five-year participation agreement for the Heineken Cup, with the
          unions holding all the shares on the organising body, European Rugby
          Cup Ltd, although they individually have the right to transfer some or
          all of their shares to their participating teams.</font>

          A
          statement, issued by the IRB rather than the Six Nations, said: "The
          game can only flourish if it is healthy at all levels. The unions are
          the only bodies set up to achieve just that. The unions do not want to
          be confrontational, but will do what it takes to secure the game's
          future. No other new tournaments will be sanctioned by the six national
          unions and IRB."</font>

          The
          meeting of the Six Nations was called by the IRB chairman Syd Millar
          following the decision of the leading clubs in France and England not
          to sign up to a new Heineken Cup agreement. He has sent out invitations
          to Premier Rugby and the Ligue Nationale de Rugby, headed by Serge
          Blanco - who has this week had a war of words with Millar - to meet him
          to discuss the issues which led up to the Heineken Cup crisis. However,
          the hard-line stance taken by Millar and the unions has reduced rather
          than enhanced the prospect of Premier Rugby and LNR taking part in the
          Heineken Cup next season.</font>

          "The
          language of the statement is aggressive and amounts to an attack on
          professional club rugby in England and France," said the Premier Rugby
          chief executive Mark McCafferty. "What they are saying is that if we
          are not prepared to take part in a competition on terms dictated by
          them then we are not allowed to arrange alternative fixtures. We will
          be taking legal advice because the IRB is adopting an extreme position.
          All we asked for was to be partners on ERC, not to take the tournament
          over, but all the unions are concerned about is using their regulatory
          power and trying to show who is boss, not taking the competition
          forward."</font>

          The
          Rugby Football Union's management board chairman, Martyn Thomas, who
          will be meeting McCafferty before Sunday's EDF Energy Cup final, said
          he hoped Premier Rugby would appreciate that concessions were made by
          the Six Nations. "Clubs can hold shares and the participation agreement
          guarantees that England will be represented in the Heineken Cup by
          clubs, which should allay Blanco's unfounded fears that we intended to
          go down the franchise route.</font>

          "Unions
          have a responsibility for the whole game, not just the top end, and
          what the English and French clubs should remember is that we are not
          playing games here. Some of the ERC staff were in tears this week
          because they thought they were going to lose their jobs."</font>

          Heineken
          has a watching brief: the ERC board meets before the end of the month
          to finalise next season's tournament. "We have not given them a
          deadline, but once they have put something together we will discuss our
          sponsorship," said Heineken's Jonathan Lane. "We hope the tournament
          can carry on as it has done."</font>
          <center><font face="Ge

          Comment


            #6
            <h1> Cup talks end in stalemate</h1>
            @@@@SPAN ="storyby">By Brendan Gallagher@@@@/SPAN>
            <div style="float: left;">@@@@SPAN ="d">Last Updated: @@@@SPAN style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">2:06am BST@@@@/SPAN>13/04/2007@@@@/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>Another
            day at the battleground that has become the Heineken Cup yesterday saw
            a seemingly premeditated entrenchment of known positions, rather than
            any serious attempt at problem-solving, as the future of a credible
            European competition for decades to come lay in the balance.<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>IRB chairman Syd Millar: set for talks with France's Serge Blanco</center></td></tr></t></table>After
            a meeting of representatives of the six Unions and International Rugby
            Board officers at Heathrow, a joint communique was released reiterating
            European Rugby Club's statement of Wednesday that a European club competition will definitely take place next season and that it could only be sanctioned by the unions.In
            addition, it was confirmed that a new five-year participation agreement
            will be put in place when the existing agreement runs out at the end of
            this season and that each union is free to decide how it splits its
            shareholding within ERC with their representatives.Finally,
            in case the French and English clubs have not got the message, the
            statement announced that the "unions resolved to strengthen the
            governance of the game which must rest firmly with the IRB and the
            national unions as the elected guardians of the game at all levels."The
            primacy of the game's governance rests with the national unions. Rugby
            has seen tremendous growth over the last 12 years, but has still some
            way to go to establishing an enduring financial base. The game can only
            flourish if it is healthy at all levels. The Unions are the only bodies
            set up to achieve just that."<div ="mpuad"><div ="adtxt">advertisement</div>< src="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/core/NetGravity/mpu.js" =""></div>The
            last sentiment might not be at all well received at the Scottish
            Borders, who are being wound up by the Scottish Rugby Union, and the
            Celtic Warriors, who were ruthlessly disbanded by the Welsh Rugby Union
            in a cost-cutting exercise.The one concrete
            development yesterday is that meetings will take place "in the coming
            days" between the IRB chairman, Syd Millar, and Premiership Rugby and
            LNR, the umbrella organisation representing the top French cl

            Comment


              #7
              <h3>European unions flex their muscles</h3>
              <h5>Thursday 12th April 2007</h5>


              European
              rugby chiefs - "the elected guardians of the game" - have vowed "to do
              what it takes" to secure the game's future - despite a current backdrop
              of considerable political unrest.






              Representatives of the six major European unions - England,
              France, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and Italy - and the International
              Rugby Board met in London on Thursday.





              In addition to unanimously supporting plans for a European Cup
              next season - it currently will not involve boycotting top French and
              English clubs - they also confirmed the establishment of a new
              five-year European Rugby Cup (ERC) participation agreement.





              ERC shareholders had already agreed there would be a European
              competition next term, including teams from all six current
              participating nations.





              But if Premier Rugby and their French equivalent Ligue Nationale
              de Rugby (LNR) remain on the outside, then European silverware could be
              contested by National League One clubs such as Doncaster, Rotherham and
              Cornish Pirates, among others.





              It has also been confirmed that both the Rugby Football Union
              (RFU) and French Rugby Federation (FFR) will invite IRB chairman Dr Syd
              Millar to meet separately with Premier Rugby and LNR.





              Millar blasted the Anglo-French alliance in a fiercely-worded statement earlier this week.





              The French and English clubs claim the RFU have reneged on an
              agreement struck last year, something that Twickenham top brass flatly
              deny.





              Both Premier Rugby and LNR blame the RFU's refusal to pass half
              their ERC shares to the English clubs as the reason for their
              withdrawal.





              But the Heathrow gathering - it included the likes of Millar,
              RFU chief executive Francis Baron, French Federation boss Bernard
              Lapasset and Welsh Rugby Union group chief executive Roger Lewis - also
              confirmed any new ERC agreement would see individual unions structuring
              their own shareholding and financial arrangements.





              A joint unions/IRB statement read: "The unions resolved to
              strengthen the governance of the game, which must rest firmly with the
              IRB and the national unions as the elected guardians of the game at all
              levels.

              Comment


                #8
                great stuff fly-caster

                Comment


                  #9
                  French clubs to limit their involvement in Europe


                  Paul Rees
                  Friday June 1, 2007



                  GuardianFrench clubs want to reduce their participation in the Heineken Cup to four teams and pull out of the European Challenge Cup completely. They are concerned that only their big four, Stade Français, Toulouse, Biarritz and Clermont Auvergne have the financial and playing resources to compete in Europe and the demanding 14-strong first division in France.


                  Clubs such as Bourgoin have in recent years fielded weakened teams in the Heineken Cup, preferring to rest players for league matches. They received a warning from European Rugby Cup Ltd but argued that they did not have enough strength to fight on two fronts. The recent dispute showed the French value their league more highly than they do Europe.


                  English Premiership clubs, in contrast, would like all their 12 members in the Heineken Cup. The French last month agreed to commit themselves to the Heineken Cup for the next seven years after threatening to boycott the event, but their desire to limit their involvement has led the organisers to begin a 12-month review of the tournament.


                  The Challenge Cup faces an uncertain future. It is commercially unsuccessful anyway and would not survive the French pulling out. If only four teams from France took part in the Heineken Cup, it could hit ERC's revenue with French television likely to seek a renewal of its contract.


                  The ERC board met this week to sign a new participation agreement for the tournament only to find that the paperwork was not ready. They will meet again next month when a five-year agreement will be signed. Unlike the previous one, which was fixed for eight years, the new deal will roll on with teams or countries having to give notice of two years before withdrawing, but no one will be able to give notice until the five years are up.


                  Meanwhile, Adam Jones has withdrawn from the Wales side to face Australia in Brisbane tomorrow after injuring his calf. Ceri Jones, normally a loose-head, will take his place at tight-head and the Worcester tight-head Chris Horsman will sit on the bench. Jones for Jones is one of five changes from the team that narrowly lost in Sydney last weekend. Michael Owen and Mefin Davies return to the pack while the captain Gareth Thomas moves to full-back in place of Lee Byrne. Aled Brew will make his full debut on the wing.


                  France have turned to three England-based veterans for their Test against New Zealand in Auckland tomorrow, Thomas Castaignède, Christian Califano and Olivier Magne. Bath have signed the Cheetahs and South Africa scrum-half Michael Claassens on a two-year contract.
                  <CENTER>Guardian Unlimited © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007</CENTER>
                  “Well done, Paul – that was some performance by Munster. A famous victory!”
                  <font color=RED>“It was unreal!”</font>
                  “and what about those wonderful supporters, Paul – what have you got to say about them?”
                  <font color=RED>“they were unreal!”</font>
                  “Well congratulations Paul – you’ve been voted man of the match today. How does that feel?”
                  <font color=RED>Unreal</font>”

                  Comment


                    #10
                    They'll all be involved as the players WANT to play in this competition......what will happen is what happens normally, if they French team don't win 2 of their first 3 games, they tune out and throw out 2nd teams for the remainder of the comp.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Bourgoin played a first team against us last season and beat Leinster at home the previous year. Its just away games where they dont give a toss.
                      My computer thinks I'm gay
                      What's the difference anyway
                      When all the people do all day
                      Is stare into a phone

                      Comment


                        #12


                        Since when where Clermont Auvergne part of their big four?


                        Bitter is right, think of Chris Cussiter for example he has gone to Perpignan, if Perpignan think they'd be able to sign a player of his class if they weren't in the HEC they're mistaken IMO. These guys still want to be playing at the highest club level so they can show their national coaches what they're about.


                        Personally i don't think the Challenge Cup has a future either, however the problem is what do you do with the teams that don't qualify for the big league? Expand the HEC to 32 teams? I can see rugby in Europe eventually going down the route of NFL in the States. We'll have something likefour conferneces of ten followed by a couple of minigroups of 4, followed by semis and then a grand final and this will replace the Premiership, ML and T14. Give it five years and i think that's where we'll be...It mightn't be such a bad thing from an entertainment point of view but money would talk and the English and French would be hard to compete against.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by blackadder


                          Since when where Clermont Auvergne part of their big four?


                          Challange cup winners, top 4 of the Top 14. plenty of players on the National team, they have been class all year.


                          Bitter is right, think of Chris Cussiter for example he has gone to Perpignan, if Perpignan think they'd be able to sign a player of his class if they weren't in the HEC they're mistaken IMO. These guys still want to be playing at the highest club level so they can show their national coaches what they're about.


                          2nd division Toulon are signing All Blacks and Springboks - don't think HEC is as important as money.


                          Personally i don't think the Challenge Cup has a future either, however the problem is what do you do with the teams that don't qualify for the big league? Expand the HEC to 32 teams? I can see rugby in Europe eventually going down the route of NFL in the States. We'll have something likefour conferneces of ten followed by a couple of minigroups of 4, followed by semis and then a grand final and this will replace the Premiership, ML and T14. Give it five years and i think that's where we'll be...It mightn't be such a bad thing from an entertainment point of view but money would talk and the English and French would be hard to compete against.
                          The only difference between me and a madman is that I'm not mad.
                          - Salvador Dali (1904-1989)

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Nonsense.

                            Comment


                              #15


                              Originally posted by sewa
                              Bourgoin played a first team against us last season and beat Leinster at home the previous year. Its just away games where they dont give a toss.




                              Bourgoin had little choice to field a first team against us last season as they needed to promote the game as it was being held in Geneva.

                              Comment

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