Euro Rugby Agreement Reached

Heineken Cup RugbyIt looks almost certain that the European Rugby Champions Cup will be confirmed for next season, hopefully ahead of the Heineken Cup quarter finals in three weeks time.

Discussions held between most of the parties in the wake of the RBS Six Nations conclusion in Paris appear to have ironed out remaining kinks in the contracts to run the tournament, hopefully as successfully as it has been for the past two decades, and it was also reported that SKY and BT Sport have reached agreement on shared coverage of the matches that had previously been a major stumbling block.

The tournament will have 20 teams including six from what is still known for a few more weeks as the RaboDirect Pro12, and six each from England and France.  The previous winner and one more from a play off between the seventh teams in France and England will make up the final number.

There will be a second tier competition to replace the Amlin Cup as well and it does appear that the tournament headquarters will switch from Dublin to Switzerland.

The news will come as a major relief to Irish provinces who would have struggled to survive at anything like their present level if excluded from playing against the best of English and French clubs, and means that players are now more likely and willing to stay.

There are financial changes as well as management ones which shift the balance of power to where the greater financial muscle lies in England and France and there is no word yet on whether Heineken will come on board again as sponsors for the new event but with the main framework now in place, those other discussions can now begin in earnest.

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