Leicester chairman Peter Tom defends English and French clubs over Heineken Cup stance
No weakening of an Anglo-French alliance with announcement of plans for major new competition next season
Wallabies captain Will Genia: the out-of-form scrumhalf has been dropped to the bench for Saturday’s Test against Argentina. Photograph: Getty Images
Leicester chairman Peter Tom has insisted top English and French clubs are not trying “to run off with the gold” after announcing plans for a major new competition next season.
There has been no weakening of an Anglo-French alliance forged in frustration over European Rugby Cup chiefs’ lengthy – and so far unaccomplished – attempts to thrash out a fresh Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup tournament agreement, taking effect from mid-2014.
While ERC directors say negotiations “towards a definitive solution” are needed “to begin again in earnest”, there is no sign of the English or French clubs budging.
Premiership Rugby, the umbrella organisation for England’s 12 Premiership clubs, met senior Rugby Football Union figures on Wednesday night, including chief executive Ian Ritchie and former England captain Bill Beaumont, to outline their position.
And Ligue Nationale de Rugby president Paul Goze has said there is currently “no alternative” for English and French clubs other than to make their own competition arrangements.
Premiership Rugby and the LNR want changes to the structure of both continental competitions, principally over the number of teams involved, the qualifying process and how funds are distributed. “You have the English and French clubs slogging it out in terms of qualifying for the Heineken Cup, so this is really trying to make it more equitable. It is not the English and French clubs being greedy,” Tom said.
Tom reiterated the Premiership Rugby/LNR stance that any Celtic or Italian teams would be welcome to join the proposed new venture. “We would like them (Celtic countries and Italy) to join us in the European Cup mark two. We would be very, very happy for them to join us,” he added.
With alarm bells ringing Down Under Australia coach Ewan McKenzie has not gone back to the drawing board so much as to rip it off the wall and hurl it out of the window for tomorrow’s clash with Argentina in Perth.
Scrumhalf Will Genia has been dropped to the bench and Ben Mowen, a backrower with only six Tests under his belt, has been awarded the captaincy.
The gambit has been branded Australian rugby’s “line-in-the-sand” moment, a move to shock an underperforming side out of its torpor and head off a potentially cataclysmic defeat against highly-physical opponents.
Argentina coach Santiago Phelan has recalled scrumhalf Tomas Cubelli and centres Felipe Contepomi and Gonzalo Tiesi.
ARGENTINA: J-M Hernandez; H Agulla, G Tiesi, F contepomi, J Imhoff; N Sanchez, T Cubelli; M Ayerza, A Creevy, J Figallo, M Carizza, J Cabello, J-M Fernandez Lobbe, P Matera, J-M Leguizamon.