French clubs not interested in breakaway tournament

The Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR), the governing body for domestic rugby in France, has clarified that unless there is a “catastrophic failure in negotiations” it will not consider abandoning the Heineken Cup for a breakaway tournament.

This assertion from LNR comes as representatives from all six countries - Ireland, England, France, Scotland, Wales and Italy – meet in Dublin today for an ERC shareholders meeting.

English and French clubs have voiced their dissatisfaction with the current structure of the Heineken Cup which they believe favours sides competing in the RaboDirect PRO12.

Accordingly both sets of clubs served notice of their intention to leave the competition at the end of the current contract which expires after the 2013-14 season unless the necessary changes are applied to the competition’s format.

Premiership Rugby increased the pressure on ERC last week with the announcement of a new TV rights deal with BT which included the exclusive rights to air European rugby matches involving Aviva Premiership teams.

This deal threatens the existence of the Heineken Cup however ERC have claimed that Premiership Rugby did not have the authority to sell the broadcast rights to European games.

Premiership Rugby had been using French Rugby’s discontent as a bargaining tool, suggesting that a breakaway Anglo-French competition could be formed.

But the LNR’s vice president Patrick Wolff has made clear that French clubs do not want to form a new breakaway tournament which wouldn’t include PRO12 clubs.

“The English put a lot of pressure on us in the past few months to accept the idea of an alternative Franco/Anglo club competition almost like it was a condition before discussing anything else," Wolff told AFP.

"That's not what we wanted to do. Save a catastrophic failure at the negotiations, which I don't think will happen, we want to play with the Celts and with the English.

"For us, there is a product (the European Cup). This product must be improved at the negotiations. We want everything to be resolved by the end of the year.

"Rugby has no interest in being swept up in uncertainty during two years. It is imperative that everyone structures things properly in their own country."

Email Updates

Receive our lunchtime briefing straight to your inbox

Related Articles

More in this Section

Oscar De La Hoya: Boxing might not recover from Mayweather-McGregor 'farce'

Jurgen Klopp is having a lovely time in Australia if this Liverpool video is anything to go by

Still got it: Ireland boss Martin O’Neill shows off his skills in Dublin

Ireland star Annalise Murphy returns silver medal as athletes complain of rusting


Today's Stories

Roy Keane ‘shocked’ by Manchester bombing

Honesty best policy for Ernie Els

Roy Keane pleased with James McClean

Eamonn Ryan patiently waiting for Cork’s lightbulb moment

Lifestyle

My life in colour - Anne Madden on artistic success and a life in France and Ireland

Ask Audrey - 'There is no such thing as a Kerry man with only small amounts of perspiration'

DNA testing to determine your family history can provide some surprising results

Stay protected this summer with the latest sunscreens

More From The Irish Examiner