Premiership rugby insists there’s more to do in European Cup row
‘Progress made’ at two-day Dublin meeting attended by six unions and mediators
Premiership Rugby has conceded progress was made at Thursday’s ERC meeting in Dublin but insisted there is more to do if agreement on the future of European rugby is to be reached.
Talks in Dublin broke up on Thursday with partial agreement on demands made by top English and French clubs — namely establishing two 20-team European club tournaments from 2014-15 and equitable funding for Aviva Premiership, French Top 14 and RaboDirect PRO12 participants.
The two-day summit, brokered by independent mediators Graeme Mew and Stephen Drymer, was attended by chief executives from all six major European unions, plus European Rugby Cup chief executive Derek McGrath and chairman Jean-Pierre Lux, among others.
Mew and Drymer subsequently issued an upbeat statement confirming the support by consensus for a continuing existence of two European tournaments, each made up of 20 teams, and a possibility of a third-tier event.
That was followed this evening by a Premiership Rugby statement, which read: “Premiership Rugby notes from today’s statement on behalf of independent mediators Graeme Mew and Stephen Drymer that progress has been made on some key issues, although there remain some significant ones which have not yet been addressed.”
Premiership Rugby, Ligue Nationale de Rugby and the four Welsh regions, who this week pledged “full support” to the Rugby Champions Cup, did not attend the Dublin talks.
Premiership clubs’ chief Mark McCafferty today also welcomed elements of the statement from Dublin but took the opportunity to reaffirm total commitment towards establishing a Rugby Champions Cup next season.
“We’ve nailed our colours very firmly to the strategic path we are going down in terms of what we can build, which is the Rugby Champions Cup,” Premiership Rugby chief executive McCafferty said today. “The Welsh have come on board during the course of this week, and we are into implementation mode.
“We have always said that there is no way we are going into any competitions that are run by ERC after the end of this season. That hasn’t changed. We feel a fresh start has got to be made. We already have indications in the marketplace that are very encouraging. It is a competition format that will be strong, fair to everyone and more financially lucrative to everyone.”
Responding to Thursday’s developments in Dublin, McCafferty added: “It seems that the proposals we have made on competition formats and on financial distribution have been accepted. Hopefully, it is a sign that in due course the whole approach we’ve been proposing is bought into. I guess time will tell.