The possibility of rival European club tournaments next season grew on Thursday after the four RaboDirect unions and France announced the Heineken Cup would continue, and English and French clubs insisted their Rugby Champions Cup "would go ahead regardless," according to Paul Rees of the London GUARDIAN. The five unions met in Dublin, one day after the Premiership and Top 14 clubs gathered in Paris, and "agreed that the Heineken Cup would continue next season, no matter how many countries were involved, and that it would continue to be run by European Rugby Cup Ltd, the body the clubs want nothing more to do with." RFU CEO Ian Ritchie, who has been trying to put together a deal between the two sides, "was not invited to the meeting," a move "which will backfire on the other unions" if the Rugby Football Union can convince Twickenham to side with its clubs and back the Rugby Champions Cup. The five unions issues a statement that said "a 20-team European club competition" would take place next season no matter how many countries were involved, it was pointed out at the meeting in Dublin that "its commercial viability would hinge on the French taking part" (GUARDIAN. 11/21).
Events and Attractions
Brisbane's loss "could be Sydney's gain," as organizers in Sydney "seek out Wimbledon champion Andy Murray to gauge his interest in hitting off his new season further south," according to Margie McDonald of THE AUSTRALIAN. Murray has played and "won the past two Brisbane Internationals but is on the recovery trail from back surgery in September." Murray will "likely bypass Brisbane in the new year." Brisbane Tournament Dir Cameron Pearson will nonetheless "keep a wildcard available for him until the last minute." Sydney Int'l CEO Craig Watson, however, hopes the "extra week -- Brisbane starts on December 29 but Sydney not until January 5 -- will tempt Murray to play on the Ken Rosewall Arena for the first time." Watson: "I'd love for that to happen. And it's the same procedure for us, in the sense that we'd keep a wildcard open as long as we could" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 11/22).
The German Touring Car Championship (DTM) "will host its race in China on the street circuit of Guangzhou in '14," according to the SID. A 4.1km street course "will be designed and constructed for the race weekend." However, the national and int'l motorsports associations "first have to approve the course design." The DTM's return to China was announced during the Norisring race in the summer. The first two DTM races in China took place in Shanghai in '04 as an invitational race, and in '10 as the final race of the season. Hans Werner Aufrecht, chairman of DTM rights holder ITR, said, "I'm happy that we have found, together with our Chinese partners, a suitable area for a spectacular street course in Guangzhou, which will host the DTM in September 2014" (SID, 11/21).
A total of 33 sports events "will be held on a grand scale" at the 27th Southeast Asia Games in three main cities -- Nay Pyi Taw, Yangon, Mandalay and Pathein in Myanmar in December, according to XINHUA. Apart from Nay Pyi Taw, Yangon "will host the largest number of sports events" including Kampo, weightlifting, wrestling, hockey, shooting, body-building and group B matches of men's football at the existing sports facilities (XINHUA, 11/21). The STRAITS TIMES noted while organizers "have consistently insisted that they are ready to welcome the athlete contingents" from the various ASEAN nations, "concerns remain of Myanmar's capability to run the regional sports extravaganza smoothly." It has been 44 years since Myanmar last hosted a sports event of such scale. Nevertheless, Myanmar Olympic Committee Joint Secretary General U. Khin Maung Lwin "has reassured all participants" that the organising committee is "100 per cent" ready to host the Games (STRAITS TIMES, 11/21).
Thailand Open officials confirmed on Thursday that falling spectator numbers and a "general decline in local tennis interest" since the '07 retirement of Paradorn Srichaphan have "killed" the event, with the ATP 250 event sold to organizers in Shenzhen, China, according to the DPA. The move to the metropolis "just across the border from Hong Kong comes after 11 editions in Bangkok and takes effect immediately" for the event to be staged in the last week of Sept. '14. The Thailand Open had been "steadily declining over recent editions, with organisers finding it increasingly difficult to attract world-class players" (DPA, 11/21). ... EUROSPORT's Marcus Foley reported the new tournament will be held from Sept. 22-28 at the Shenzhen Longgang Sports Center. ATP Exec VP Alison Lee said, "China has long been a growing market for men's professional tennis and we're delighted to strengthen our presence in the region through the addition of this ATP World Tour 250 tournament in Shenzhen." The move means that "China becomes the first country" outside the U.S. to host ATP World Tour 250, 500 and Masters 1000 events (EUROSPORT, 11/21).