Heineken Cup 'too good to lose'

Date published: July 18 2013

ERC chief executive Derek McGrath is hopeful everyone will come to their senses to allow the Heineken Cup to continue after next season.

European Rugby Cup chief executive Derek McGrath is hopeful everyone will come to their senses to allow the action to continue after next season.

Cardiff were on Wednesday handed the 2013/14 finals, with the Millennium Stadium and Arms Park getting the May 23 and May 24 showpieces.

That decision has been overshadowed however by the recent decision by English and French clubs to pull out of the European competition if changes are not made to the qualification setup.

But McGrath hopes that issues can be resolved when further talks continue before September.

“The responsibility we have is to encourage everybody to focus on what it is we are trying to achieve and the needs of European rugby,” he said.

“We can't really control what other things people are looking at. The deadline is here in Cardiff next May.

“We have to think of the fans and we have to think of our broadcasters anad sponsors as well, the uncertainty isn't good for professional sport if we we are not able to explain where we are going.

“It is very important that all of our stakeholders focus on that.

“I am confident, more than confident it (the Heineken Cup) will still be here (after the end of this season).”

McGrath wants all sides to understand compromise will be required to secure the future of a European competition which has rapidly become the envy of the global game.

“The reality is we want to find an agreement which will be in the interests of European club rugby, but then it has also got to work for each of the six countries, individually and collectively,” he added.

“If we don't find that, we are not going to get something which is possible for each of those six countries.

“What we are looking for is move away perhaps from what we have had in recent times, which is rhetoric.

“We need to get around the table with all the stakeholders ready to engage in discussion and to recognise that everybody is going to have to give in order to find accommodation, which is the history of these discussions.

“I understand there are strong positions and there is a lot of stake for both sides – a lot to lose and a lot to win.

“When we have been through this before we have clearly had the same situations where there is a variety of positions adopted, but everybody, and it will continue to be the case, wants it to continue and to get bigger and better. There is no doubt about that.”

Meanwhile, Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Roger Lewis added his own voice to keeping the competition alive.

“It's too good to lose,” he said.

“The bottom line is – no-one is awash with dosh in rugby. No-one.

“That's why everyone must come to their senses with a solution. Everyone in the game in Europe needs this competition. First for rugby and second for finance.

“I think we will all come to our senses and make sure this competition continues.”