McCafferty says Pro12 teams have expressed interest in new competition
Premiership boss says Rugby Champions Cup will be European event
Premiership Rugby chief executive Mark McCafferty. Photograph: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images
Premiership Rugby chief executive Mark McCafferty has confirmed that approaches have been received from RaboDirect Pro12 teams expressing interest in a new European competition being set up alongside France’s Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR).
The Rugby Champions Cup is scheduled to start next season according to a release on the Premiership Rugby website this morning and McCafferty expects it to be more than an Anglo-French competition.
“Before we can release more details we need to know over the next few weeks which other teams will be joining the competition,” McCafferty said.
“We expect those discussions to continue over the next few weeks. Once we know the final, or close to final, numbers then we settle on the competition formats.
“Various people have approached us about the possibility of joining and we’ve indicated to them that we’ll keep their names confidential.
“We’ve heard that other people want to be involved in European competitions, that’s why we’ve left the door open and expect it to be more than an Anglo-French competition.
“Once people saw on September 10th that we would seek an alternative, interest has been expressed in at least knowing exactly what will be involved – the format, commercial and financial details as well.”
McCafferty is confident of securing English Rugby Football Union backing and hinted that Premiership Rugby would pursue the matter legally if its approval was not forthcoming.
“We’re asking for the RFU’s support against the background that there will be no ERC competition in which we’re taking part at the end of the season. We need to put in place new competitions,” McCafferty said.
“We ultimately expect to have RFU support and it’s in the interests of English rugby to have the teams playing in a good competition at the end of the season.
“If that scenario occurs where the RFU oppose what we’re doing, we’d have to look at the reasons for opposing it.
“You can’t just from a legal point of view say ‘we don’t want it so we’re not going to approve it’, especially when there’s a conflict of interests.
“We’ll try to overcome the issues and then take it from there. We’re asking for support. We’d expect that support.”
McCafferty revealed the proposed Rugby Champions Cup would be overseen by an “organising body of some sort – it doesn’t need to be as big, unwieldy or institutionalised as ERC”.
He denied ERC claims that the detail of its television deal with BT Sport is shrouded in mystery – “the RFU know what’s in it” – and said that the French clubs will only play in a competition involving their English counterparts.
The statement released this morning again mentioned the terms under which the new competition would be played, again pointing to what they believe is a fairer qualification criteria and better financial rewards for teams taking part.
“The competition will be based on the principles of qualification on merit, a strong competition format, equality between the leagues, higher commercial values for the teams and expansion into new European markets.
“The Top 14 and Premiership Rugby clubs have already confirmed their participation in the new competition and a joint working group has been created to prepare all necessary elements in good time for the 2014/15 season.
“Further details concerning the competition format, marketing and financial aspects of the Rugby Champions Cup will be communicated in October.”
Heineken and Amlin Cup organisers ERC has scheduled the next round of negotiations for October 23rd in Dublin, which has further antagonised English and French clubs who had initially demanded urgency in finding a resolution before losing patience and declaring they would forge their own path.