Representatives and stakeholders from the European Rugby Cup met in London on Wednesday in order to agree on the way forward for the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup but again failed to find a solution.
English and French clubs are not happy with the current format as their opposition teams do not have to qualify for the Heineken Cup in the same way and have automatic qualification regardless of their level of skill.
The meeting was the fourth of its kind involving the stakeholders and this time included an evaluation, conducted by ERC, of the merits and the rationale for the proposed changes to the Heineken Cup and the Amlin Challenge Cup, as well as the impact on all stakeholders of any changes to the format and structure of both tournaments.
While the evaluation provided the basis for discussion, the meeting ended without agreement. Jean-Pierre Lux, ERC independent Chairman, concluded the proceedings by calling on all parties to take time to reflect on their positions and to consider the collective objectives of the stakeholders.
Jean-Pierre Lux said: “After four meetings, it is extremely disappointing for all involved that we have not yet made sufficient progress towards a new Accord.”
“These tournaments have become cherished by the clubs, players, supporters and our partners. Everyone around the table remains committed to making European club rugby stronger and we are confident a solution will be found.
“Together we have developed very successful and compelling European competitions built on solidarity, inclusivity and respect for sovereignty.
“Ultimately, ERC’s competitions depend on the support and agreement of the clubs and Unions in all of the participating countries, and now each nation must reflect on what is the best way forward for European rugby as a whole.”
While no date was set for another stakeholder meeting, the Board of ERC is scheduled to meet on 6 February 2013 when it will review the consultation process to date.
The current Accord, which was agreed by all stakeholders in 2007, includes a two-year notice period which began on 1 June 2012 to allow for negotiations towards the formulation of a new Accord. The structure and format of both the Heineken Cup and the Amlin Challenge Cup remain in place until the end of the 2013/14 season.
ERC stakeholder meeting attendees:
Jean-Pierre Lux (ERC Chairman)
Derek McGrath (ERC Chief Executive)
Ben Calveley (RFU)
Mark McCafferty (Premiership Rugby)
Bruce Craig (Premiership Rugby)
Michel Palmie (FFR)
Olivier Keraudren (FFR)
Rene Bouscatel (LNR)
Philip Browne (IRFU)
Peter Boyle (IRFU)
Fabrizio Gaetaniello (FIR)
Orazio Arancio (FIR)
Mark Dodson (SR)
Ian McLauchlan (SR)
Stuart Gallacher (Regional Rugby Wales)
Steve Phillips (WRU)