International Rugby Board Steps In To Block Club Rebellion Over European Cup
The Int'l Rugby Board "is to take urgent action as part of a last-gasp intervention to resolve the crisis that is threatening to derail the future of European club rugby," according to Gavin Mairs of the London TELEGRAPH. The world governing body "has run out of patience with a situation in which, despite more than 18 months of at-times torturous negotiations, there appears to be no prospect of an agreement" over the future of the European club competitions. The IRB is also "concerned that the dispute has spilled over into a seemingly escalating row" between the Welsh Rugby Union and its four professional regions, who have "threatened to join the English clubs in a breakaway Anglo-Welsh tournament" (TELEGRAPH, 1/8). The PA reported the IRB is "ready to call all six top unions and relevant club bodies to a summit meeting to broker a final solution to the European wrangles." No meetings are scheduled, but the IRB issued a statement on Wednesday night, "formally entering the European dispute for the first time." Concerned at the lack of a "common solution," the IRB pledged to fight for the "establishment of a truly representative pan-European rugby competition that fully complies with IRB regulations." The IRB "did reiterate the world game's governing body cannot support any cross-border competition unsanctioned by relevant domestic unions." That would "severely damage the likelihood" of a new Anglo-Welsh league, one of the counter proposals from Premiership Rugby if "there is no full European contest next season" (PA, 1/8).