Rugby Football Union CEO Eager To Restart European Tournament Talks
Rugby Football Union CEO Ian Ritchie "is trying to restart negotiations" over the future of a European club tournament after weeks of deception by the Pro12 unions, according to Paul Rees of the London GUARDIAN. Three meetings scheduled for this month have been postponed because the unions "are reluctant to address the issue of governance." The clubs, who last year gave notice that they would be pulling out of the Heineken Cup, are "organizing a replacement tournament, the Rugby Champions Cup, and insist it will be run by clubs." The French Rugby Federation "has been obstructive towards the new tournament," saying among other things that it would "flout French law." The Pro12 unions "have been waiting to see whether the Top 14 clubs will be persuaded to commit" to European Rugby Cup. The Pro12 unions "have complained that they have not seen details" of the TV deal secured by Premiership Rugby with BT Sport. However, the RFU "has." The clubs maintain that the contract will boost income by 50%, "leaving all six countries better off." The four Welsh regions are "meeting this week to discuss the implications of the impasse." One club official said, "This is a key moment. At the moment, it could go either way but the longer there is a delay, the greater the chance of the three Celtic unions and Italy suffering a big drop in revenue next season because there will be no Europe" (GUARDIAN, 11/19).