Mark McCafferty expects RFU backing
September 26, 2013
Toulon could be one of the last winners of the Heineken Cup as we know it © Getty Images
Premiership Rugby CEO Mark McCafferty has said he expects the backing of the Rugby Football Union over the proposed breakaway European tournament despite the four Unions that make up the RaboDirect PRO12 saying they will not support the proposed Rugby Champions Cup unless it receives ratification from the International Rugby Board.
The latest development in the future of the Heineken Cup comes days after IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset insisted any European tournament should be Union-run rather than the club organised structure proposed by Premiership Rugby (PRL) and its French counterparts Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR) who preside over the Top 14.
As things stand, both LNR and PRL are fully committed to the newly formed Rugby Champions Cup which they see replacing the Heineken Cup. The two organisations served their notice to European Rugby Cup Ltd - the body in charge of the Heineken Cup - in June 2012 saying they would leave the tournament unless certain aspects were changed. Both hold misgivings over the distribution of revenue, votes and the qualification process.
Despite calls for a return to the negotiating table, the French and English clubs are steadfast in their desire to push ahead with a club-run tournament as opposed to the current Union-run Heineken Cup.
Racing Metro owner Jacky Lorenzetti said on Thursday that, in his view, the "ERC is dead" and Bath chairman Bruce Craig reiterated PRL's stance that the time for compromise has now been and gone and they are pushing ahead with the Champions Cup.
Both PRL and LNR remain optimistic the teams in the RaboDirect PRO12 will join them in leaving the ERC and link-up with the new breakaway competition.
However, any new tournament requires IRB ratification while the teams playing in the competition also need to have permission from their relevant Unions. The French Rugby Federation has already said they will not support the new competition and the Scottish Rugby Union, Wales Rugby Union, Federazione Italiana Rugby and Irish Rugby Football Union have all said they will only allow their respective teams to take part in the competition if the IRB approve it.
But McCafferty is hopeful the RFU will back the new tournament and reiterated his wish that the PRO12 clubs will join them in the Champions Cup. "We expect the RFU (Rugby Football Union) to support us," McCafferty said. "We are putting a competition format and a financial structure in place through the Rugby Champions Cup that is going to be attractive to everyone participating in it.
"We believe, as we've said, that quite a number of teams want to be in the Rugby Champions Cup, so we will continue working through the working group to put in place the remaining details in October of the competition. We accept that we need then to present it as an option or invitation to others as to whether they want to be part of that or not.
"If people do, great, and if they don't - or they are not allowed to be part of it - then they must make their own decisions. Teams will want to be in this competition, particularly if it's commercially attractive. They may well need their union's support on that, but frankly if there is no viable alternative then people want to be part of what is a strong option that is on the table.
"We are looking to pull final details together by the end of October. We need to know within that time frame whether people are in or not in. The door is open for others, and we would want others to be involved so we can have a broader European competition."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Download ESPN's new UK multisport app, a fresh and powerful new way to follow your favourite UK sports news, scores and video.
Former Manchester City midfielder Dietmar Hamann has accused manager Manuel Pellegrini of making a "cock-up" that could cost the club millions of pounds
London Irish have confirmed they are now owned by a consortium of London-based Irish businessmen who have acquired a majority stake in the club
Australia captain Michael Clarke has lauded England counterpart Alastair Cook ahead of the pair's 100th Test appearance for their respective nations
Manchester United boss David Moyes has scouted Atletico Madrid's Koke as he continues his search for a central midfielder
Leicester appear increasingly resigned to losing fly-half Toby Flood when his contract expires at the end of the season