Italian Rugby Side Benetton Treviso Says It Will Quit RaboDirect Pro12 In June
The "potential disintegration of European rugby" has taken another step toward "becoming reality after one of Italy's two franchises stated it will follow the lead of the Welsh regions and pull out of the RaboDirect Pro12," according to Stuart McAllister of the HERALD SCOTLAND. Italian side Benetton Treviso has given notice that its involvement in the tournament will "end when their participation agreement expires in June." If Benetton and the Welsh "both follow through on their threats, it would make life almost impossible for the Scottish Rugby Union, which has invested heavily in its two pro clubs but could be left without any viable cross-border tournaments for them to compete in" (HERALD SCOTLAND, 2/11). In London, Chris Hewett reported the announcement was "made all the more dramatic" by the fact that neither Treviso "nor anyone else in Azzurri rugby had the foggiest idea as to what the alternative might be." But with Parma-based club Zebre, "very much the junior of the country’s two top-level teams, expected to follow suit and the four Welsh outfits talking ever more determinedly about breaking away from their union and joining the English Premiership," the game could be "left with a Pro 6 at best -- and an unsponsored Pro 6 at that, given the decision of the banking group RaboDirect to sever links at the close of the current campaign." Senior representatives of the Six Nations Council, headed by the Rugby Football Union Chairman Bill Beaumont, are scheduled to meet their opposite numbers from the club movement on Wednesday "in another attempt to find common ground on the Heineken Cup" (INDEPENDENT, 2/11).