Wray says Heineken Cup statement 'irrelevant'
November 22, 2013
Nigel Wray is adamant the days of ERC rule are over © Getty Images
Saracens chairman Nigel Wray has said last night's statement from the Unions was "irrelevant" and was the "last bastion of the landlord versus serf relationship".
The Welsh, Irish, Scottish, French and Italian unions issued a collective statement on Thursday saying they would support the Heineken Cup but Wray is adamant the breakaway Rugby Champions Cup will go ahead next season saying they are "terribly close to an agreement".
"Our position is exactly the same, we will not play in the ERC tournament, full stop," Wray told ESPN. "Their statement was irrelevant. Firstly, absolutely everything has been agreed [about the Champions Cup]. The only thing which hasn't been agreed is under whose governance is the tournament. The original proposal was that it'd be under the Six Nations.
"It's the Champions Cup, but it'll be the same. I imagine Heineken may try to sponsor it - so it would still be the Heineken Cup. To the outside observer, there's no bloody change."
According to Wray, the French "won't play if we don't play" and "the Welsh regions are fully signed up to play in the Champions Cup." In his view, Thursday's statement from the five unions was "the last bastion of the landlord versus serf relationship".
"It's ludicrous that some bloke in France who hasn't invested a penny in the game can tell small businesses how they can operate and what they can and can't do. It's ludicrous. It wouldn't happen in any other industry. All the clubs are, are small businesses trying to make their way in the world and they can't have some outside body telling you what you to do, who you can play, who you can take an order from.
"Imagine being in the engineering business and the engineering federation says 'oh no, you can't take an order from France'. We are so close to an agreement that hopefully, hopefully it'll get there.
"ERC is a limited company, it is not a governing body, with all the costs and overheads and expenses of a limited company. We don't want them running our game. They don't have any money invested, they aren't shareholders, we don't want them running the game. We're very happy to have the Six Nations committee involved."
And Wray is hopeful an agreement will be signed imminently securing the Champions Cup for next term.
"We're terribly, terribly close to an agreement and it's not a surprise that there's a last-minute hitch. The unions, who if you like have had the landlord role, always want to cling on to their power, it's perfectly normal. But it's like stopping the waves coming in, Canute didn't manage it and they won't.
"The number of teams entering has been agreed - seven from the PRO12, six from England, six from the French and a play-off between the French and English for the last spot. The teams have one vote each, the money is split equally between the three leagues. What could be more democratic and sensible than that?
"My personal view is that it will get sorted it. It's so silly at the moment. We're so nearly there. Most things get settled at the eleventh hour. This will get sorted at the eleventh and a half."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Tom Hamilton is the Assistant Editor of ESPNscrum.
Communication error please reload the page.
Rugby Sevens will make its Olympic debut on August, 6, 2016, after the Rio 2016 Organising Committee released the daily competition schedule to mark 500 days to go.
Brad Thorn might be returning to Super Rugby in 2016, with a report that Queensland Reds are looking to create a "player-coaching role" for him
SANZAR has lodged an appeal against the outcome of its own judicial hearing of a dangerous tackle charge against Sharks centre Francois Steyn
Michael van Gerwen once again missed double 12 for a perfect nine-dart leg but powered on to maintain his spot at the top of the Premier League table
Juan Martin del Potro's latest comeback from an injury is off to a slow start
Fallout continues from the NSW-Brumbies derby, with one Tahs forward - not Potgieter - surprised by other unsavoury comments during the game, Greg Growden reports
Greg Growden previews Super Rugby round 7. We've also got key stats, team news and all the line-ups to inform your ESPN Footytips Super Rugby picks
Will Mercedes dominate again? Can anybody catch up with the help of a rainstorm? And will the Red Bull/Renault relationship tear itself apart? All those questions and more will be answered at this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix
Maurice Hamilton pieces together what we know from the Fernando Alonso crash and explains why the latest answers raise more questions
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Tiger Woods is confident of recovering from a poor run of form to qualify for the US Ryder Cup team in 2016, according to captain Davis Love III
Jonas Gutierrez has told Canal+ he will never forgive Newcastle for the way the club treated him during his battle with cancer, but wants to stay at St James' Park beyond this summer
Lionel Messi earned more than €1 million (£740,000) a week last year to make him the world's highest-paid player and Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho was the best-paid coach, according to a new survey
Andy Murray has expressed fears that his game will regress without full-time coaching in a candid exchange with a fellow Twitter user as he prepares to add former world No.4 Jonas Bjorkman to his coaching team
Luis Suarez has laughed off the idea that the Barcelona players have set out to help Lionel Messi beat Cristiano Ronaldo to La Liga's top scorer award
Unbeaten heavyweight Dillian Whyte, 28, (14-0, 11 KOs) tells ESPN where his rivalry with Anthony Joshua stems from and outlines the plan for his career this year after returning from a doping ban in November
Some of the best fighters to ever glove up have plied their trade in the Octagon - now ESPN list the 10 best who have fought under the UFC banner
Who was the first Briton to win the British Grand Prix?
Where does Anthony Davidson's record of 24 Grands Prix without a point rank him?
How many F1 drivers have had one win, but done it at their home Grand Prix?