IRB would approve Anglo-French breakaway
If new competition to replace Heineken Cup had support of individual unions, IRB would approve it
Heineken Cup Final 18/5/2013ASM Clermont Auvergne vs ToulonGeneral view of the Heineken CupMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan
The International Rugby Board said today that if push came to shove, it would green light a new Anglo-French competition providing the tournament was sanctioned by both the English and French rugby unions.
In an interview with the BBC this afternoon, IRB chief executive Brett Gosper said his preference would be for a full European competition but added that if no resolution can be agreed to save the Heineken and Amlin Cups, the governing body would approve an Anglo-French breakaway.
“Before it got to us, the RFU would have to approve their clubs partaking in such a competition, and then the French would have to approve their clubs,” Gosper explained. “If both unions approve it and felt comfortable with it, then the likelihood is that we would approve it.
“If they are not comfortable with it, then it would be doubtful that we would approve such a competition.”
The French and English clubs last week declared they would establish their own competition from 2014-15 after failing to reach agreement with the ERC stakeholders over structural, qualification and financial changes to the existing competition.
Gosper, speaking on the subject for the first time, said the IRB would prefer all European nations be involved and remains optimistic a compromise can be reached.
“Our clear position is we support a full European competition and our desire is it’s a bona fide European competition,” he added.
“We are urging all parties to get together and find a resolution because we obviously believe it is in the interests of rugby to have a strong European competition. It’s good for the clubs and good for the unions.
“Hopefully they are in a negotiation, some say they are, some say they aren’t, but certainly we believe in a European competition and will support that outcome as much as we can.”