Former RFU Chairman Slams ‘Arrogant’ English Clubs Over Euro Row

September 19, 2012

Former Rugby Football Union (RFU) Chairman, Martyn Thomas, believes Celtic nations should not tolerate the ‘bullying’ of English clubs over the European TV row.

Premier Rugby, which represents the top 12 English clubs, is embroidered in a conflict with the governing body of the Heineken Cup, the European Rugby Cup Ltd (ERC).

Thomas said: “There’s only one thing you can do when you have a playground bully on you and that is to punch back.

“Until you do, you will be bullied. I think that is the situation that prevails now.

“I think the Celtic unions and Italy have got to stand together and say ‘look this is a team effort, either you want to negotiate and work with us to improve the revenue for all of us to make a better game and a greater spectacle, or get out’.

“The time has come for the Celtic unions to actually say that.”

The ERC are unhappy that Premier Rugby has sold European rights to BT Vision for three years, starting on 2014, in an agreement worth £152m.

Thomas believes English and French clubs are ‘arrogant’, who believe that they are superior to others in European Rugby.

“The English and French clubs are arrogant enough to believe that they are the driving force of Europe and want a greater share of the broadcasting cake,” he said.

“They believe they have the right entitlement to demand more for playing in the competition. If you look at last year’s competition we had two Irish sides in the final.

“The English and French clubs seem to regard Wales, Ireland and Scotland, and to some extent Italy, as junior partners, but without opposition, there is no game.”

However, Thomas does understand the reasoning of the English and French clubs, but maintains that the best interest of European Rugby should come first.

“One can have a degree of sympathy, but to put the competition in jeopardy in the desperate pursuit of money, I don’t think it is the right thing to do,” said Thomas.

“The competition has gone from strength to strength and it’s the next tier of rugby below international rugby.”