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SBD Global/August 24, 2012/Events and Attractions

European Club Rugby 'Dismayed And Frustrated' By Anglo-French Threat

European Club Rugby (ERC) are “dismayed and frustrated” at the threat issued by English and French clubs that they will quit European competition "unless structural changes are made," according to the IRISH EXAMINER. Premiership Rugby CEO Mark McCafferty insists that teams from the RaboDirect Pro12 are given "a significant advantage" in the Heineken Cup due to the method of qualification. ERC responded by stating Chair Jean-Pierre Lux and CEO Derek McGrath have "spent the summer seeking proposals from stakeholders that will be tabled at the next meeting" in Dublin on Sept. 18. They emphasized that the English and French clubs "consented to the existing accord," agreed in '07 and which has two more seasons to run. ERC spokesperson Mark Jones said, “This is a process that is laid down as part of the accord agreed in 2007. It’s not a bolt out of the blue. The current qualification process was agreed by ERC’s shareholders as part of the 2007 accord" (IRISH EXAMINER, 8/23). In Dublin, Gerry Thornley opined that "the latest Anglo-French stand-off with their European counterparts over the future composition of the Heineken Cup has intensified." McCafferty "upped the ante by accusing the ERC of dragging its heels on the issue." The current deal has two more seasons to run, and it is likely that the brinkmanship "will continue for much of the next two years, amid further threats of an Anglo-French breakaway competition." There is "little doubt though that McCafferty’s complaints reflect a growing angst and envy within English and French club rugby, however misguided, concerning the Irish provinces’ ability to claim five of the last seven Heineken Cups" (IRISH TIMES, 8/23).
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