Warburton calls for Euro qualification

Date published: September 13 2013

Lions captain Sam Warburton has voiced his support for calls that qualification criteria for Europe need to change for Pro12 clubs.

British and Irish Lions captain Sam Warburton has voiced his support for calls that qualification criteria for the European Cups need to change for Pro 12 clubs.

The English and French clubs stated on Tuesday that they would leave the Heineken Cup at the end of the current season.

They are hoping to create a new tournament that grants entry to only six Pro 12 teams, regardless of their nationality.

“I can understand from the English and French point of view,” Warburton told the BBC.

“I do agree there should be a qualifying system from the Rabodirect.

“I don't think they should hand it out to each country, it should be the top six to qualify and it would make the Rabo more interesting.

“I can agree with the English and French perspective that there should be tougher qualification.”

The main reason given by the Anglo-French Clubs for wanting to create a new competition is that they believe the qualification process and division of wealth in the Heineken Cup favours Pro12 teams.

The Pro12 has no relegation, meaning that teams can rest players for league matches, ensuring that they are fresh for Europe. The two Scottish and Italian sides are also guaranteed a spot in the Heineken Cup.

The Welsh captain hopes that a compromise can be manufactured and expects to be playing an even stronger European competition next season.

Warburton also considered the consequences of the Pro12 teams not being included in an Anglo-French competition.

“Hopefully, whatever happens, the Cardiff Blues will be playing in the top tier of European rugby next season,” said Warburton.

“If that was the case, then at least the standard of the Rabo would be improved because there would have to be full teams.

“I have always said if all the top teams fielded their best sides in the Rabo, it would be a competitive and great league.

“So there are pros and cons and hopefully the Blues will remain in Europe somehow.

“I cannot really imagine it happening and I am sure something will be worked out – and that the regions will play European rugby and I hope that is the case.”