Little progress in H-Cup discussions
Rugby:The future of the Heineken Cup remains very much up in the air this evening after the latest meeting of the competition’s stakeholders ended with little progress made towards a new accord. The current structure of both the Heineken Cup and the Amlin Challenge Cup remain in place until the end of the 2013/’14 season but without a new accord it remains to be seen what will happen beyond that.
This was the fourth such meeting since the English and French clubs indicated during the summer they wish to see a change in the structure of the competitions They were seeking a reduction in the Heineken Cup from 24 to 20 teams, comprising the top six teams in each of the qualifying leagues, Top 14, Premiership and Rabo Pro12, along with the winners of the Heineken and Amlin Cups.
It had been thought they were willing to compromise and allow the top four from the Pro12 to qualify, along with the top Scottish and Italian sides in the league. While this would ensure Scottish and Italian representation, it would mean that Leinster, Ulster and Munster would have to finish in the top four to qualify and would almost certainly cast Connacht adrift.
Following the latest round of discussions, ERC chairman Jean-Pierre Lux said: “It is extremely disappointing for all involved that we have not yet made sufficient progress towards a new accord. These tournaments have become cherished by the clubs, players, supporters and our partners. Everyone around the table remains committed to making European club rugby stronger and we are confident a solution will be found.
“Together we have developed very successful and compelling European competitions built on solidarity, inclusivity and respect for sovereignty. Ultimately, ERC’s competitions depend on the support and agreement of the clubs and unions in all of the participating countries, and now each nation must reflect on what is the best way forward for European rugby as a whole.”