Heineken Cup
Thomas: No way FFR and IRB will approve new cup
ESPN Staff
September 13, 2013

Former Rugby Football Union (RFU) chairman Martyn Thomas has claimed the English clubs are obliged to play in the Heineken Cup until the end of the 2014-15 campaign.

Premiership Rugby (PRL) stated on Tuesday that it and the Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR) have agreed to set up a breakaway European tournament for the start of next season. Both organisations served their notice to ERC at the end of last season with LNR and PRL saying they will leave the Heineken Cup. The duo harbour reservations against the qualification process for the tournament and the distribution of votes and revenue.

Despite ERC's statement on Wednesday claiming all stakeholders were still committed to finding a solution under the current organisation, counter comments from representatives of PRL and LNR suggest the breakaway tournament is still at the forefront of their plans for next season.

However, any new tournament will need approval from the RFU and French Rugby Federation (FFR) and Thomas claims his former employers can enforce a rule which would see English teams staying in the Heineken Cup until 2015.

"There's a contractual obligation there that the RFU can enforce," Thomas told the BBC. "It not only provides that they will play in Europe to the end of the season 2014-2015, it also provides that they will play in no other professional competitions."

And Thomas says he expects the FFR and the International Rugby Board to reject any plans for a new breakaway tournament. "The clubs in England require the consent of their union, the teams in France require the consent of their union," Thomas added. "Pierre Camou is probably one of the strongest presidents in world rugby - he is a tough guy.

"Also, because it's a cross border they require the consent of the IRB and they have a French chairman in Bernard Lapasset. There is no way that those two Frenchmen are going to give consent for this to occur."

While Thomas is expecting a flat refusal from the FFR and IRB, Leicester Tigers chairman Peter Tom said on Thursday he is hopeful the RFU will see the benefits of the new club-run competition.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Download ESPN's new UK multisport app, a fresh and powerful new way to follow your favourite UK sports news, scores and video.

Live Sports

Communication error please reload the page.

  • Football

  • Cricket

  • Rugby

    • Days
    • Hrs
    • Mins
    • Secs

    F1 - Azerbaijan GP

  • OtherLive >>

    Golf - Houston Open
    Snooker - China Open
    Tennis - Miami Open