lunedì 30 settembre 2013

The game - as we know it - is changing

Ospitiamo l'intervento di Seb Greenwood, giornalista gallese che abbiamo già conosciuto nelle ultime due edizioni del 6 Nations per la presentazione delle partite degli Azzurri contro il Galles. L'occasione speciale è ciò che sta avvenendo attorno alle coppe europee. Di seguito un'analisi e la presentazione di uno degli scenari possibili, effetto collaterale dello strappo anglo-francese: non più i giocatori che lasciano le Valleys, ma le franchigie che migrano nel campionato inglese. Buona lettura.

As anyone who has followed the ‘Rugby Champions Cup’ saga will know, English and French clubs intend to quit the Heineken Cup at the end of this year in order to form a new European competition likely to be called the Rugby Champions Cup. The reasons for this defection are wide-ranging, but now that the wheels are in motion and it looks to have a chance of happening, real questions are being asked of the other European clubs. 

Supposing the Rugby Champions Cup does go ahead: is it likely that teams from Wales would be allowed to compete in it? During the launch of the proposed tournament it was made clear that RaboDirect Pro 12 teams would be welcome to compete in the competition, and at first this seemed to indicate that this was the way things were going: the tournament would be installed and all of the current Heineken Cup clubs would jump ship to the new incarnation. 

If the Rugby Champions Cup did go ahead, the Welsh regions would have little option but to join it. The Heineken Cup would no longer exist, and without the lure of a big European cup competition to play in, it would be even more difficult for Wales to keep their players playing in their regions. Welsh players are already leaving for France and England in their droves, and if it was only the lackluster RaboDirect Pro 12 that could be offered to Welsh players, the Welsh professional game could foreseeably fold altogether. 

With it seeming distinctly possible that the face of European rugby would change irrecoverably, the FFR stepped in like a cat among the pigeons and said that it would refuse to sanction the involvement of any French team in a non IRB and ERC approved competition. The WRU quickly stepped in and echoed a similar sentiment. This left the English clubs in something of a limbo, as with both French and Welsh unions opposed to the idea, the difficulty in getting clubs in to compete in this new competition appeared too great. 

The one possibility mooted was the idea of the Welsh regions leaving their domestic league behind entirely and joining England’s Aviva Premiership. That would then leave them free to take part in the Rugby Champions Cup as long as the RFU sanctioned it. Unfortunately for the Welsh regions, that idea hit a wall, as there is apparently no room for them in the Aviva, which basically leaves Welsh hands tied as far as involvement in the competition is concerned. 

As it stands, unless the FFR are prepared to reconsider their position, the competition has no chance of being a success. If the FFR did change their mind, there’s no doubt that the WRU would quickly follow suit, and the possibility of a new European tournament would be very much alive, but as it stands, there looks unlikely to be any Welsh, French or even English participation in the so-called Rugby Champions Cup.

Worthwile Words

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