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SBD Global/September 17, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Officials Hope To Resolve 'Bitter Row' Over The Future Of Rugby's Heineken Cup

Representatives from the six competing nations of rugby's Heineken Cup will gather in Dublin Tuesday hoping to resolve "the bitter row over the future" of the tournament, according to Stephen Jones of the SUNDAY TIMES. Europe’s premier club rugby competition is "under threat" after the English and French clubs "served notice that they were unhappy with the existing qualification structure." Premiership Rugby went a step further last week when it announced a new TV deal with BT Vision, which includes "rights to transmit the matches of the England clubs in any new European tournament after '14." However, it now appears that the Welsh and Irish clubs will propose to their Anglo-French counterparts to only have the top eight sides, irrespective of nationality, qualify from the 12-club Rabo Pro12 -- the league in which teams from the Celtic nations and Italy compete. The Irish-Welsh changes "would maintain the 24-club format." The top seven clubs in each of the French and English leagues, the reigning Heineken champions and winners of the second-tier Amlin Cup would "complete the line-up" (SUNDAY TIMES, 9/16). In London, Paul Rees reported that Premiership Rugby is certain that English clubs will pull out of the Heineken Cup at the end of next season if "their demands for change are not met and that they will be financially better off if they do." Premiership Rugby CEO Mark McCafferty said, "We know it will get feisty on Tuesday, but people will get the opportunity to look closely at what is available. The deal we have signed with BT will stand whether the Heineken Cup remains or not, and all our clubs will be 50% better off. We want to share with Europe, but we need change" (GUARDIAN, 9/15).
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