Debate: What should be the H Cup qualification system?
Should it be the Top 8 teams respectively in the RaboPro12, Aviva Premiership and Top 14 who qualify for the Heineken Cup, or should it just stay the same?
The 24 qualified teams would be a fairer reflection of the best 24 in Europe, and there would be fewer easy group matches
This season if this system was in place it would mean that Bayonne, Toulon, Dragons and Exeter would be in the Heineken Cup in place of Connacht, Treviso, Aironi and Glasgow. The team that finished 7th would have earned their place, rather than Glasgow who finished 11th last season in the RaboPro12 getting a place despite a poor season
I think we can all agree, that all of the first four teams mentioned are better than Connacht and Aironi, and would make the groups much harder and mean there would be a lot less chance to see teams getting top seeds in the quarter finals on the basis of 10 safe points against Aironi, there could be groups with all teams capable of winning at least two matches and thus more tight groups
It would give more meaning to the RaboPro12
Under the current qualification system an ordinary humdrum league match between the Dragons and Treviso for example means very little to either side with no relegation in the league, yet with European qualification on the line the match would get a lot more meaning and could bring more fans to the games with something riding on it. The Dragons finished seventh last year, but nobody noticed and they missed out on European qualification, under this system it would mean something for them to finish seventh.
Currently as well, in some RaboPro12 matches the teams are quite understrength at times, under this system teams couldn't afford to do this with European qualification up for grabs. And also many Premiership and Top 14 teams, get annoyed how the some Celtic teams can rest players for the couple of weeks before a big European tie whilst they have to fight out for position in the league, this could end that.
The Italian and Scottish teams could get European Cup fever
Although there is more chance that the Italian teams would not be in the Heineken Cup, it would be more at their level. Aironi lose most matches, but under this system they could win more facing weaker Spanish sides and would have more competitive even matches with teams like Newcastle rather than matches against Clermont, Leicester or Ulster. Under this system the Italians (especially Treviso) could realistically reach the quarter finals and have big matches and go on a cup run which would get more interest from fans and raise morale around the squad.
The same also applies to the Scottish teams to a lesser extent, as one of them normally finishes outside the top 8 and they rarely achieve anything in Europe but could go on a possible cup run in the Amlin Challenge Cup.
More same nation vs same nation matches
Under the current system there is just one group with same country vs same country matches (Harlequins and Gloucester), with 8 teams from each league qualification system there would be much more of these matches which don't have the same European flavour with matches against teams more rarely played
The tournament would be less European
Under this system, there could very possibly be no Italian team in the competition making it less of a continental tournament
More club vs country battles for the Celtic teams
Currently English and French teams, get very annoyed when their best players are taken away for national training camps or not released for a match in a rest week between 6 Nations matches, under this qualification system the same thing would spread to the Celtic and Italian teams also.
The Irish national team players in particular are very heavily managed by the IRFU meaning that players such as Johnny Sexton, Jamie Heaslip and Rob Kearney despite all being first choice at their provinces have barely played in RaboPro12 matches, in fact all three of those players mentioned have played more Heineken Cup matches this season than they have RaboPro12 matches. This means that a player like Leo Auva'a who can hardly make the Leinster Heineken Cup 23 man squad, plays very regularly at Pro12 level.
The same thing happens with Italy, Scotland and Wales also. Notably Andy Robinson withdrew and rested Alastair Kellock, Richie Gray, John Barclay, Allan Jacobsen and Ross Ford from the end of March until the end of the season. (read that story on this link http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/rugby-union/12913317)
That would never ever happen in a million years in the English or French leagues as the teams are fighting it out for relegation, European places, and playoff places at that time of the season
If this proposed change to the qualification system came into place, then the Celtic and Italian clubs with their future earnings at stake would really kick up a fuss about their players being rested by the governing boards. (However the weakened sides such as Leinster and Munster would safely qualify without their Ireland contracted players anyway, so maybe not them), but the Dragons for example would fight a lot harder for Toby Faletau.
what are your thoughts?
do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages?
also please vote in the poll