Planet Rugby

Anglo-French clubs leave Heineken Cup

10th September 2013 17:47

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The Heineken Cup trophy is unveiled during the Heineken Cup Final

Talks end: Heineken Cup

English and French clubs will form a new breakaway competition from next season after talks about continuing the Heineken Cup were finally ended.

In a statement released by Premiership Rugby, the new competition will kick-off in 2014/15 and will also be open to teams from other nations.

That means the Heineken Cup as we know it will effectively be over in May next year when the final takes place at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium.

"The 2013/14 Aviva Premiership Rugby season kicked off this weekend with our clubs having no clear view of new European competitions from next season onwards," read the press release, with the decision leaving an uncertain future for Welsh, Irish, Italian and Scottish teams.

"The current European Rugby Cup (ERC) competitions terminate at the end of this season after notice was served by the English and French clubs in June 2012.

"Despite numerous meetings between the stakeholders over the last year, the last of which was in May, discussions have been unsuccessful and the clubs can only conclude that negotiations on any new European agreement have now ended.

"The English and French clubs have proposed the formation of two new, stronger competitions of 20 teams each, based on the principles of qualification on merit from each league, the inclusion of teams from all six existing countries and the expansion into new markets. These proposals could form the basis of future competitions.

"However, given the importance and urgency of the current position, and the reconfirmation that the French clubs will not participate in any competition unless it includes the English clubs, the clubs have now asked Premiership Rugby to take immediate action to put in place a competition for 2014/15 to include the French and English clubs but which will also be open to teams from other countries."

Meanwhile, the ERC has responded to Tuesday's developments by revealing that their stakeholders will meet in Dublin on Wednesday to decide the future of the Heineken Cup.

"All parties involved in the ongoing consultation process aimed at formulating a new Accord which will provide for the structure and format of European club rugby tournaments for the 2014/15 season and beyond will be represented at a scheduled meeting of the ERC Board in Dublin tomorrow (Wednesday, 11 September 2013)," read a statement.

"While there is a shared sense of frustration among ERC's stakeholders at the lack of progress towards a new Accord, the meeting will provide an opportunity for the parties to 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 agreement. 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."

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