RFU To Meet Celtic, Italian Unions To Thrash Out Heineken Cup Compromise
The future of European club rugby "could become clearer this week," with representatives of the Celtic and Italian unions set to meet the Rugby Football Union in an attempt "to reach a new agreement with the English and French clubs," according to Gavin Mairs of the London TELEGRAPH. One source said that this was expected to be a “critical week” for hopes of a deal being forged to ensure that all six nations are represented in a new European tournament next season. RFU CEO Ian Ritchie is "expected to be key to any breakthrough, and the weeks of mistrust appear to have been replaced by a greater degree of level-headed rationality." There is "still a significant gap between, on the one side, the English and French clubs, and, on the other, their fellow European stakeholders." However, with the Celtic nations and Italy set to compromise on the demands by the English and French for a three-way split of revenues and merit-based qualification from the RaboDirect Pro12, there "is an increasing sense that a deal can be struck" (TELEGRAPH, 10/13).