Former RFU Chief Reveals English Clubs Contracted to Heineken Cup Until 2015

September 13, 2013

Premiership Rugby clubs are contractually bound to play in the Heineken Cup until 2015, leaving the possibility of playing in a new tournament next year in the balance.

The former chairman of the Rugby Football Union (RFU), Martyn Thomas told Radio Wales that English clubs are contracted to the Heineken Cup for another year and their move to play in another tournament was ‘grandstanding.’

Top-flight English and French clubs have said they want to play in a new tournament next season, due to grievances with the qualification process of the current European cups.

However, Thomas said: “”There’s a contractual obligation there that the RFU can enforce.

“It not only provides that they will play in Europe to the end of the season 2014-2015, it also provides that they will play in no other professional competitions.”

“It’s grandstanding,” he added. “The ERC (European Rugby Cup) agreement was signed, and it was signed subsequently to an agreement that the RFU and PRL [Premier Rugby Ltd] and each individual club entered into and that was in 2007.

“One of the terms of the agreement was that the Premiership clubs would remain playing in Europe until the end of that agreement with the RFU.

“The RFU have got to stand up and be counted, it’s not a popularity competition being at the RFU.”

A statement was released on Saturday by Premiership Rugby that said they and the French Super 14 clubs would set up a new continental tournament which was open to other nations.

Thomas expects FFR & IRB to block new tournament

Thomas added that he expected the French Rugby Federation (FFR) and the International Rugby Board (IRB) to block the move.

“The clubs in England require the consent of their union, the teams in France require the consent of their union,” he said.

“Pierre Camou is probably one of the strongest presidents in world rugby – he is a tough guy.

“Also, because it’s a cross border they require the consent of the IRB and they have a French chairman in Bernard Lapasset.

“There is no way that those two Frenchmen are going to give consent for this to occur.”