The new European Rugby Champions Cup is set to be sponsored by the same company which backed the competition it replaced.
According to a report in The Rugby Paper Heineken, who were the long-term title sponsors of the previous European rugby competition, will splash out around £4m-a-year to be associated with the European Rugby Champions Cup.
Heineken is the first major company to give their backing to the new competition, which is being organised by club-driven promoters European Professional Club Rugby.
EPCR are hopeful of securing sponsorship from four other major companies, with insurance-giant Allianz and Turkish Airlines believed to be among the interested parties.
Jonny Wilkinson said playing alongside ‘inspirational’ former Australian centre Matt Giteau had convinced him now was the right time to retire.
Giteau will find himself back on South African soil in June when he faces the Springboks as part of Nick Mallett’s World XV.
Wilkinson and Giteau – ‘the ultimate professional’ in the eyes of the England great – were both members of the star-studded Toulon side that retained the European Cup with a 23-6 win over Saracens in the European Cup Final.
The build-up to one of Europe’s greatest sporting weekends is almost complete as the clock ticks towards the Cardiff 2014 finals kick-off.
With a galaxy of international stars ready to take the stage at the atmospheric Millennium Stadium for tomorrow’s Heineken Cup decider between RC Toulon and Saracens, and at Cardiff Arms Park for this evening’s all-English Amlin Challenge Cup confrontation featuring Bath Rugby and Northampton Saints, fans from all over Europe are flocking into the Welsh capital to savour a unique celebration of club rugby.
Both matches – which will feature players from as many as 15 nations including luminaries of the global game such as Jonny Wilkinson, George North, Matt Giteau, Schalk Brits and Bryan Habana – will be broadcast in more than 150 countries worldwide.
England’s Rugby World Cup hero Jonny Wilkinson announced on Monday that he will retire at the end of the season after Toulon’s Heineken Cup and French Top 14 finals.
“I would like to take this opportunity to formally announce my retirement from playing rugby,” the 34-year-old said in a statement on his club’s website.
“I have an enormous number of people to thank for their support from all around the world but especially here in France and in England,” Wilkinson said.
Heineken Cup organisers have announced that the roof of the Millennium Stadium will be closed for next Saturday’s Heineken Cup final between holders, RC Toulon, and Saracens.
The decision is in keeping with previous European club rugby deciders at the famous Cardiff venue. While the atmosphere surrounding a Heineken Cup final is inevitably a special one, the sheer sense of occasion generated when the Millennium Stadium roof is shut adds an extra dimension for players and supporters alike.
Reigning champions Toulon will have a shot at becoming only the third team in Heineken Cup history to defend their title after they overcame Munster 24-16 in the second semi-final at Stade Velodrome, Marseille.
The only try of the game may have come in the second half from Munster wing Simon Zebo, but Toulon were never behind in a game which saw Jonny Wilkinson end with 21 points and Delon Armitage smash over a 55 metre penalty.
Saracens boss Mark McCall said “it does not really matter” who they face in the Heineken Cup final after a record-breaking win against Clermont Auvergne.
They set new semi-final marks for most points scored (46), most tries scored (six) and biggest winning margin (40), as they romped home 46-6 on Saturday.
The European Cup draws towards the Final with two french giants battling against the cream of the Irish and English leagues in the semifinals.
Reigning European Cup champions, Toulon, are aiming for a fourth European final in five seasons.
And although they are on the opposite side of the semifinal draw from French compatriots Clermont, successes for both of these teams could see a repeat of last years Final.
Last year’s Final saw Toulon just pip Clermont by a solitary point.
European clubs have agreed to launch three new continental tournaments, after almost two years of conflict.
The six federations and representatives from English, French and Welsh teams made the announcement on Thursday.
In a joint-statement, the nine stakeholders also revealed that previous competition organisers European Rugby Cup (ERC) will be replaced by a new organisation – European Professional Club Rugby – based in Switzerland.
The tug of war regarding the premier club competition in European rugby has been conducted very publicly for a long time and a week ago it was reported that an announcement on the structure of future competitions was imminent. However, it all seems to have gone quiet and no final announcement has been forthcoming.
There are rumours that the Italian clubs and their representative bodies were needing to discuss a few details of what should otherwise be a done deal. Furthermore there is the question of the broadcasting battle between Sky and BT Sport which is apparently in the process of being sorted out with a joint broadcast agreement likely for next season. The final rumour is that the parties involved may not have wanted to make any announcements this week in the lead up to the quarter finals of the current Heineken Cup competition.
Long-serving Edinburgh Rugby duo Ben Cairns and Steven Lawrie have been forced to retire from rugby due to long-term knee injuries.
The news ends the tenure of the long-serving local lads, both capped for Scotland, who will now pursue careers on the other side of the white paint.
The future of the European Cup has been plunged into fresh doubt after officials refused to release payments owed to competing clubs.
Following a board meeting of European Rugby Cup at its Dublin headquarters on Wednesday, tournament chiefs said they would reconvene on February 19.
ERC is facing the threat of extinction, with moves afoot to have the continent’s top club rugby union events run by another organisation next season.
Springbok lock Bakkies Botha faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines after he suffered a fractured forearm in Toulon’s 10-23 Top 14 loss to Brive on Saturday.
The European Cup (wit it’s two legs of Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup) set a new pool stage attendance record as quarterfinal qualification went down to the wire once again at the weekend.
As Europe’s premier club tournament was delivering another rollercoaster Round Six full of intrigue, spectators were voting with their feet to set a new European Cup pool stage attendance record.
Edinburgh loose forward Cornell du Preez and Connacht duo Kieran Marmion and Nathan White have been cited after the weekend’s final round of the European Cup pool stages.
Round 6 of the European Cup, which includes the Heineken Cup (Premier Competition) and Amlin Challenge Cup (secondary Qualification Competition) happened this past weekend and there was high drama and lots of action!
Sunday evening the full puzzle of who plays where in the Play-Off’s of both the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge cup was revealed.
In the Heineken Cup, Ulster will host Saracens, ASM Clermont Auvergne will host Leicester Tigers, whilst the defending champions Toulon will host Leinster and Munster will host Toulouse at Thomond Park. The Quarter-finals will take place on the weekend of 4 to 6 April.
In the Amlin Challenge Cup Northampton Saints, Harlequins and Gloucester have booked their spots in the Quarter-finals along with the amlin Challenge Cup Pool winners Bath, London Wasps, Stade Francais, Sale Sharks and Brive.
Bath will host Brive, London Wasps will host Gloucester, Stade Francais host Harlequins and Sale Sharks will host Northampton Saints.
The race to these Cup winners will be interrupted by the Six Nations tournament, which takes place from 1 February 2014.
If the qualification picture for the European Cup quarterfinals is now significantly clearer following last weekend’s Round Five games, the closing series of pool matches in Europe’s premier club tournament retains its customary intrigue.
Eighteen European Cup clubs are still in contention for silverware, following a pulsating weekend of Round Five action.
In the Heineken Cup race, reigning champions, Toulon, as well as ASM Clermont Auvergne and Munster emerged as winners of Pool 2, Pool 4 and Pool 6 respectively to seal their places in the last eight of the Heineken Cup – while Ulster, Leicester Tigers and Toulouse are also guaranteed coveted spots in the quarterfinals.
Joe van Niekerk, Juan Smith, Bakkies Botha and Craig Burden were part of a dominant Toulon pack that created three penalty tries in the European champions’ win over Cardiff Blues.
Seven South African players were involved in Sunday’s match between Toulouse and Saracens, with Jano Vermaak, Chiliboy Ralepelle and Schalk Ferreira starting for the victorious French side who had Gurthrö Steenkamp on the bench. Neil de Kock, Alistair Hargreaves, Schalk Brits and Ernst Joubert were all on the losing side for the visitors.
Toulon (15) 43 / 20 (13) Cardiff Blues (Final Score)
Toulon and the Cardiff Blues did battle in the Heineken Cup at
Allianz Riviera at 17:40 SA Time (15:40 GMT, 16:40 Fra Time).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & SHD on TV in SA.
Harlequins (13) 13 / 16 (3) Clermont (Final Score)
Harlequins and ASM Clermont Auvergne did battle in the Heineken Cup at
The Twickenham Stoop at 15:35 SA Time (13:35 GMT).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & SHD on TV in SA.
The world’s best hooker, Bismarck du Plessis, is among 12 Springboks named in a provisional Sharks squad to play Saracens at Allianz Park on Saturday, January 25.
The reigning Currie Cup champions will play the current Premiership leaders, a unique clash between north and south, between the Heineken Cup in European Cup and Super Rugby.
Morgan Parra will make a surprise return to action against Harlequins in the European Cup on Saturday, his Clermont head coach Vern Cotter said on Thursday.
It is crunch time in Europe’s premier club tournament, as we enter Round Five of the Euro Cup. The build-up this week may have shone the spotlight on the heavyweight Anglo-French clashes – between Toulouse and Saracens, and Harlequins and ASM Clermont Auvergne – but two other French giants will also be in crucial matches. Defending European champions Toulon host Cardiff Blues in Nice on Saturday, while French champions Castres are at home to Leinster on Sunday.
The sound of Afrikaans being spoken among a group of Edinburgh players yesterday fuelled the belief that Murrayfield is taking on a strong South African flavour, but prop Willem Nel emerged from the huddle to insist that the capital side is not losing its Scottish identity.
Clermont received fresh injury concerns on Tuesday ahead of Saturday’s crunch European Cup clash with Harlequins as New Zealand centre Regan King and France No.8 Damien Chouly were both ruled out.
Qualification for the knockout stage of Europe’s premier club tournament is on the line once again as the tension-packed Rounds Five and Six of the European Cup assume centre stage in the coming fortnight.
Once the drama and number-crunching conclude, six pool winners and the two best pool runners-up will have booked prized spots in the European Cup quarterfinals, while the three next best pool runners-up will extend their season in Europe by qualifying for the quarterfinals of the Challenge Cup.