In the latest development in the ongoing impasse over the future of European club rugby, the President of the French Federation (FFR), Pierre Camou, is reputedly ready to offer French clubs €2 million apiece for participating in the Heineken Cup next season.
Not only is Camou refusing to wilt in his opposition to the proposed Anglo-French breakaway competition, he is also remaining true to his work in supporting the ERC and the President of the FFR is thus prepared to meet the Anglo-French clubs' drive for a Rugby Champions Cup head on.
According to yesterday's twice-weekly French rugby paper Midi Olimpique, the president of the FFR is ready to pledge compensation amounting to €2 million to French clubs willing to participate in an ERC-run pan-European tournament and, significantly, whether or not they are in the Top 14. Pierre Camou has even suggested the idea of offering players who want to compete in the European Cup federal contracts, which would have the same entitlements as the 40 players currently in the French squad for the November tests.
Raise the ante
Camou's decision to raise the ante follows a secret meeting the FFR president and representatives of the English and French clubs had last Tuesday in a lounge of the Roissy Charles De Gaulle airport. At this meeting, Camou re-affirmed his commitment to respect French law, making it clear to those present that the next edition of the European Cup could be contested only under the aegis of the ERC, even though the LNR and PRL is insisting that its clubs will not participate in a European competition organized by the ERC.
Under French law, French clubs are not permitted to take part in any cross-border competition without the approval of the FFR and, by extension, the French government. If Camou sticks to his guns, and he is clearly not for budging, then the only way the French clubs could participate in the proposed Champions Cup would be taking the FFR and the French government to court. Apparently, his position has not changed one iota and he is not going to talk publicly any more on the subject.
Meanwhile the LNR President Paul Goze remains at loggerheads with Camou, and repeatedly tells any French reporter minded to listen that "the ERC is over."