/ Features

John Taylor

John Taylor John Taylor RSS FeedFeeds

John Taylor won his first cap for Wales at the age of 21 and played 26 Tests during the golden era of Welsh rugby. He also toured with the Lions twice, in 1968 and again in 1971, when he played in all four Tests as they beat the All Blacks to record the Lions' only series victory in New Zealand. He retired from playing in 1978 and began a successful career in broadcasting and journalism. He has covered the last eight Lions tours and has been a regular contributor to ESPNscrum since 1999.

The future of European rugby
IRB must avoid Dublin bias over Europe
John Taylor
January 14, 2014
RFU boss Ian Ritchie is hopeful of a solution over Europe © Getty Images

At least somebody is positive! Ian Ritchie, the wonderfully optimistic CEO of the Rugby Football Union, does not do silly subterfuge so cheerfully admitted he had just jetted in from Paris when he arrived at the Rugby Writers Dinner last night. "It's pretty simple," he said. "We've got to get this sorted!" 'This' of course is the future structure of European club rugby.

Yesterday's meeting was with the French Federation and Bernard Lapasset, Chairman of the International Rugby Board. I would like to believe the IRB has the same positive attitude as Ritchie - 'we've got to get this sorted' - but from their statement last week I'm afraid they have already shown which side they are on.

After the statutory preamble reassuring the rugby world that the IRB will 'work actively with its Unions towards the goal of achieving a unified and acceptable outcome for all stakeholders', they then nail their colours to the mast.

"In the interests of the global Game, the IRB reaffirms that it will not support any cross-border competitions that are not approved by the unions of any participating clubs, rugby bodies and host countries in full accordance with IRB regulations and bye-laws."

That sounds to me like an unequivocal endorsement of the status quo. They are supporting a European competition run by ERC, the Dublin based body that has run the Heineken Cup from day one even though the English and French clubs have made it clear they want change.

"That sounds to me like an unequivocal endorsement of the status quo"

Sadly, it came as no surprise. Jean-Pierre Lux, the French chairman of ERC, has obviously been lobbying hard - who can blame him, he will be out of a job if ERC disappears - but this is not really IRB business and, given the fact that many people are very suspicious about the Dublin connection they might have been better advised to keep their distance.

When the IRB relocated to Ireland it made complete sense. They were taking advantage of a very favourable tax regime that allowed them to maximise the revenues received from World Cups and their other tournaments for the benefit of the game.

However, when the Six Nations, the Four Home Unions, British Lions Ltd., ERC and the Celtic League to name just six umbrella organisations - there are probably more - followed suit it started to become incestuous.

To a large extent they share the same buildings and judging by their letterheads the same commercial team seems to represent all the European bodies. That is not in the best interests of the game.

Everybody agrees the governance of the game has to be supervised by the IRB and the national rugby unions but the clubs/regions/provinces are also stakeholders and independent businesses so they cannot be treated as naughty schoolchildren. The IRB would be well-advised to stay neutral.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
John Taylor is a former Wales international who toured with the British & Irish Lions in 1968 and 1971. Since retiring he has worked in the media and has covered the last eight Lions tours as a commentator or journalist

Live Sports

Communication error please reload the page.

  • Latest
  • Most Viewed
  • News
  • Features
  • Rugby

    Sevens dates confirmed for Rio 2016

    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.

  • Rugby

    Reds making play for Brad Thorn - report

    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

  • Rugby

    SANZAR delays appeal into Steyn's not guilty verdict

    SANZAR has lodged an appeal against the outcome of its own judicial hearing of a dangerous tackle charge against Sharks centre Francois Steyn

  • Darts

    Near-perfect Van Gerwen storms on in Dublin

    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

  • Tennis

    Del Potro struggles continue as Wozniacki breezes through

    Juan Martin del Potro's latest comeback from an injury is off to a slow start

  • Rugby

    Super Rugby preview, team news, line-ups: Round 7

    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

  • Rugby

    Unsavoury sledging did not end with Potgieter

    Fallout continues from the NSW-Brumbies derby, with one Tahs forward - not Potgieter - surprised by other unsavoury comments during the game, Greg Growden reports

  • Formula 1

    Storm clouds gather in Malaysia

    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

  • Formula 1

    Alonso: More questions than answers

    Maurice Hamilton pieces together what we know from the Fernando Alonso crash and explains why the latest answers raise more questions

  • Rugby

    Attacking revolution won't be repeated at World Cup

    John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year

  • News
  • Features

Sponsored Links

Make Huge Income from your Home
Download your Free Guide And Learn How To Increase Your Monthly Income