Onset of a new European Cup moves significantly closer after Paris meeting

In this and much else, such as financial share-out and format, PRL and the LNR have pretty much obtained everything they have demanded

The onset of a new European Cup, run by a combination of Premiership Rugby, the ligue nationale de rugby and the Welsh Regional Rugby along with the Six Nations, in place of the ERC-run Heineken Cup, has moved significantly closer following a meeting between most of the aforementioned parties in Paris yesterday.

All bar one or two of the six nations were represented at yesterday's meeting. While it is understood that the Italian Federation, for one, may not have been represented, and thus ratification still awaits, it seems that broad agreement has been reached on two new competitions.

Nothing has been officially signed off, and a major stumbling block had been the conflicting TV deals which ERC and Premiership Rugby (PRL) had signed with Sky Sports and British Telecom, but it appears these two broadband and non-terrestrial rivals agreed a deal for shared coverage last Wednesday.

One other potential stumbling block could be the actual name of the tournament. PRL have registered the name the Champions Cup in June 2013, which was the title for their proposed breakaway Anglo-French tournament, and which the IRB has objected to. As a means of compromise, the new tournament could be called the European Rugby Champions Cup.

New umbrella
This will be the primary competition of two tournaments under the new umbrella organisation, which will seemingly be based in Neuchetal in Switzerland, and may or may not include some of the 20 or so staff in ERC's Dublin headquarters.


It will feature 20 teams, the top six qualifying from the Premiership, Top 14 and Pro12 (which will include a guaranteed entry from each of the four competing countries), along with another place for the country which provides this season’s Heineken Cup winners. At the end of this season there will be a play-off between the seventh-placed teams in the Top 14 and the Premiership for the remaining place.

In this and much else, such as financial share-out and format, PRL and the LNR have pretty much obtained everything they have demanded while threatening legal action, and first a breakaway Anglo-French and then breakaway Anglo-Welsh competition.

The Anglo-French proposal broke down after the French Federation President Pierre Camus secured agreement with LNR over a new accord between the two French parties before the November international window which included their clubs' participation in a Heineken Cup without the English clubs.

But this was scuppered when the Scottish RFU, whose Glasgow and Edinburgh sides are sponsored by BT, broke ranks and pulled out of that agreement.

There are no plans for any further meetings this week, although conceivably agreement could be reached without a full meeting, but with all parties likely to be in Dublin next week for other matters, agreement on the new European tournaments looks like being reached in the next couple of weeks.

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley is Rugby Correspondent of The Irish Times