Heineken Cup
IRB supports 'full European competition'
ESPN Staff
September 18, 2013
Brett Gosper wants an all-inclusive European competition

The International Rugby Board has called for a pan-European tournament but has refrained from backing the Heineken Cup or the proposed breakaway Anglo-French alternative.

Both Premiership Rugby (PRL) and Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR) have tabled plans for a club-run European tournament for the 2014-15 campaign, a move which would see them leave the organisation in charge of the Heineken Cup, European Rugby Cup Ltd (ERC).

ERC is still optimistic compromise can be found over the future of Europe's premier tournament but PRL and LNR hold misgivings over the distribution of wealth, votes and the qualification process. PRL and LNR are adamant they will push forward the move to a club-run tournament but ERC has called a meeting for October 23 to attempt to continue negotiations.

At present, the Anglo-French clubs have committed to the breakaway tournament but the RaboDirect PRO12 sides are yet to show their hand. And Gosper insists all European nations must be involved in any future tournament.

"Our clear position is we support a full European competition and our desire is it's a bona fide European competition," Gosper said. "We are urging all parties to get together and find a resolution because we obviously believe it is in the interests of rugby to have a strong European competition. It's good for the clubs and good for the unions.

"Hopefully they are in a negotiation, some say they are, some say they aren't, but certainly we believe in a European competition and will support that outcome as much as we can."

Any future European competition would need ratification from the respective national unions and IRB - and Gloucester chairman Ryan Walkinshaw is optimistic the RFU will see the benefits in the new-look competition.

Subsequent reports suggested that IRB would block any move for an Anglo-French competition, prompting a further statement from the IRB that clarified their position.

"A strong pan-European competition is in the best interests of the development of European Rugby and the International Rugby Board (IRB) strongly encourages and supports ongoing stakeholder dialogue in order to reach an agreement," the statement said.

"To clarify the global competition procedure, under IRB Regulations all cross-border club competitions require Union approval in the first instance and, if reached, ultimately the approval of the IRB Council.

"We naturally support our Unions in their attempts to grow a thriving, genuinely cross-European competition.

"All hypothetical scenarios remain just that with discussions ongoing and it would not be appropriate to pre-empt the view of Council, should approval be required."

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