Wray warns that Heineken Cup ‘hiatus’ could happen

English and French clubs looking for changes to competition

Saracens chairman  Nigel Wray. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

Saracens chairman Nigel Wray. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images


Saracens chairman Nigel Wray has vowed that English teams will be prepared to carry out their threat to pull out of the Heineken Cup.

The English and French clubs have served notice they will withdraw from the competition, and also the Amlin Challenge Cup, when the existing participation agreement ends in May 2014.

That stance could shift if changes are made to the sporting and commercial elements of the two tournaments, forcing every club to qualify, ending the right of automatic entry currently enjoyed by Scotland and Italy.

The plan proposed by Premiership Rugby would reduce the Heineken Cup to 20 teams with four teams dropping into a strengthened Amlin Challenge Cup.

The Rabodirect Pro12 clubs have dug their heels in, arguing the Heineken Cup has to be representative of the whole of Europe and the only way to ensure that is by guaranteeing entry.

Wray told the Daily Telegraph: “Do I think there will be a hiatus where the English clubs don’t play? Yes I do. But I hope not.

“There has to be a real threat because if you are permanently outvoted you have to change the system.

“All we are saying is we are not going to play under those rules, which we are entitled to do. It has to change otherwise the English and French clubs will be permanently outvoted. We want a much fairer share of the cake.

“My personal view is that the English clubs would be crazy if they accepted the current deal because we are permanently outvoted by nations that aren’t contributing a lot of money.”