Euro rugby in crisis

The European Cup was thrown into further disarray when England’s top clubs joined French teams in boycotting next season’s competition.

The clubs reached their decision after the RFU refused to give them a stake in the northern hemisphere’s version of the Super 14. French clubs had voted 14-3 in favour of pulling out earlier on Thursday.

“We are not competing in the European Cups organised by European Rugby Cup. It is non-reversible,” said French National League (LNR) president Serge Blanco.

An agreement for the European Rugby Cup, which has been in place for eight years and does not cover clubs having a stake in the running of the tournament, ends this season. The problem is the RFU refuses to let go of their percentage to the clubs.

A statement issued by Premier Rugby League (PRL) said its members felt it was “appropriate” that clubs should have some say, and that this had been a “fundamental principle” of negotiations for a new agreement which had been going on for over 12 months.

“LNR and PRL both believe a position was clearly reached last year which confirmed that clubs would have a much greater say in any minimum seven-year agreement, and that they would both hold shares in the new ERC,” the statement continuted. “The clubs remain by this position reached in October 2006 as the basis for any future agreement.

“Regrettably, while the Federation Francaise de Rugby (FFR) and the Federazione Italiana Rugby (FIR) have confirmed this position, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) appears no longer to accept this. As a result, LNR and PRL clubs are not willing to participate in the absence of a new agreement based on last year’s position and which is inclusive of all parties.”