Heineken Cup
Lapasset comes out fighting for ERC
ESPN Staff
September 24, 2013
Bernard Lapasset has declared his support for the ERC © Getty Images

International Rugby Board chairman Bernard Lapasset has come out in support of European Rugby Cup Ltd saying any future European tournament must be Union-run.

Premiership Rugby, the umbrella body representing the leading English clubs, and its French counterparts, the Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR), confirmed earlier this month that they plan to form a new cross-border competition for the 2014-15 season having failed to negotiate changes to the structure of the Heineken Cup and also the qualification criteria and the distribution of revenue.

ERC, the organiser of both the Heineken Cup and the second tier Amlin Challenge Cup, has scheduled a fresh round of negotiations for October 23 and have appointed an independent mediator in a bid to find a suitable compromise but the English and French clubs have no interest in dealing with the union-dominated ERC and are determined to push on with their own plans for what will be called the Rugby Champions Cup.

Any new tournament will require the approval of the respective unions and while Premiership Rugby remain confident of attracting the support of the Rugby Football Union, the French Rugby Federation (FFR) have signalled their intent to block an non-ERC endorsed competition.

ERC chairman Jean-Pierre Lux slammed the breakaway competition and the stakeholders for showing a lack of respect and the organisation seemingly has the backing of the IRB who helped the organisation appoint an independent mediator last Friday to sort the mess.

Lapasset told AFP the game's governing body "will ensure we have a European competition which fulfils its name, which is not confiscated by some nations but has a real international interest.

"The IRB will defend this principle: not a privatisation of a competition in the interest of some people," he said, adding that "unions maintain pre-eminence over the leagues... the unions must remain masters of the game."

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