Blanco hints at Heineken boycott

Discussion in 'General Rugby Union' started by stevemagoo, Mar 28, 2006.

  1. stevemagoo

    stevemagoo Guest

    French League president aiming to change the face of world club rugby

    French league president Serge Blanco has warned European Rugby Cup (ERC), the organisers of the Heineken Cup, that his teams could boycott the competition in the 2007/8 season, according to reports from France.

    In a long interview with France's Midi-Olympique newspaper, Blanco said that he wanted a change in the way the cup was organised.

    The discussions over how the qualification to the European Cup - and the shareholding between the six countries involved - will be shared from 2007 onwards have begun, with the current format in place until June of 2007 only.

    Currently, the share of representation in the competition is set up on the basis of the Paris accord, with two representatives from each country on the board of ERC, but Blanco, who is supported in English quarters as well, has suggested that English and French clubs who hold the big money should take over the organisation of the competitions after 2007.

    The French also want the qualification from the Celtic League reduced, so that only six teams can qualify for the Heineken Cup directly.

    "We could boycott the European Cup," Blanco was quoted as saying.

    "The clubs will not lose money in the event of a boycott over the season 2007/8. We can do without the European Cup.

    "We would take our losses, and we will gain dates for the calendar."

    The French have support from England, and apparently from Italy, but not from the Celtic Nations, with Ireland particularly opposed to the proposed changes - originally proposed by Premier Rugby - describing them as "insulting". A meeting is scheduled for April 11 to try and resolve the differences, with the Irish - who have clubs perennially present in the quarter-finals at the very least - seen as the main obstacle to change.

    "In ten years of European competition, there have been five English victories, four French and one Irish," Blanco continued.

    "This system with the British workers profiting from leading powers [us] is not agreeable.

    It is possible that the French and English will get their way this time. Both Blanco and Premier Rugby were angry at the Welsh representation in the competition after the re-structuring of Welsh rugby in 2003 had all four Welsh regions appearing in the tournament, while England and France had to make do with only half of their teams appearing.

    ERC communications manager John Corcoran said that it was not a matter for ERC to deal with until the discussions over the future had been completed, but did not anticipate any major changes.

    "The discussions between the shareholders of European Rugby Cup are ongoing, but are of a private nature. ERC is not in a position to reveal the content of those discussions," he said.

    "We will carry out the tournament on the basis put forward by the shareholders."

    But Blanco is adamant that the French must have more of a say in the tournament.

    "The clubs and the League want to be the players in a competition which French teams play an important role in and is now not managed appropriately to us," he said.

    While Blanco is supported by Premier Rugby, there is opposition from the RFU, who think that an increase in the Heineken Cup profile will damage their own tournaments, which generate more revenue for the Union.

    Heineken Cup matches currently generate on £350,000 ($611,800) per weekend, far less than the estimated £1m ($1.7m) per Premiership weekend. The difference in weekend revenue between the Top 14 and Heineken Cup is similar.

    This is also a bugbear to Blanco, who has long made clear his objections to any form of Heineken Cup expansion, and now appears to be seizing on the opportunity of the Paris Accord expiry to even up the revenue differences between the Top 14 and Heineken Cup, and either turn the Heineken Cup's success to his clubs' advantage, or leave it altogether.

    Blanco spoke to this site six months ago about the future of European rugby, and said at the time that he wanted no expansion of the tournament.

    "It [the Heineken Cup] is starting to be a success here. We have no problem if it grows," he said at the time.

    He then grew slightly indignant.

    "As long as it doesn't increase the number of games. We don't want the number of games to increase," he continued.

    "The competition brings nothing to French rugby in terms of money. Four years ago, the clubs had more money than now.

    "If we started with the Top 16, we would earn more money than with the H-Cup. We want to play the H-Cup, but not more games. It would just add to the number of matches, but bring nothing financially to the clubs."

    In the interview on Monday, as he did in the interview with this site last October, Blanco put forward his idea for a world club tournament, involving the top clubs and provinces, to take place once every two years. But he railed at the ERC board, who he said would never be flexible enough to listen to such an idea.

    "The omnipotence of the board which chokes everything is finished," he said.

    "We do not want to submit to the will of the ERC Board which refuses to be acountable to us.

    "We are ready to go face-to-face and we have arguments to put forward...up to now we have been very well-behaved children, but that is finished now.

    "There will be a revolution if they do not listen to us...I am now sounding the alarm before it is too late."

    Courtesy of Planet Rugby who also have a 3 part interview with Blanco linked in this story
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  3. An Tarbh

    An Tarbh Guest

    I think this is just a case of the French and English showboating before the end of the Paris accord. Just a case of them flexing their muscles before the proper negotiations.
  4. loratadine

    loratadine Guest

    what a prat - the reason why the season cant get overhauled in the nh is because of france and england being so wrapped up with their domestice competitions - theres over 35 professional sides in the nh and that is too much - the sh have 14 - i can tell you that the sh are laughing there heads off on the way was run our game in the nh
  5. If the RFU and FFR were to be given more control then it would mean that it would eventually become little more than an anglo-french cup. Munster and Leinster frequently get into the quarter finals, so why should the IRFU be deprived of their say? The WRU may be a bit of a joke off of the pitch, but their still a major party as is the SRU so why should we lose out?

    Also, by reducing the amount of Celtic sides and increasing the number of French and English sides, how would that help the development of the sport? It wouldn't.
  6. Bullitt

    Bullitt Guest

    Becausew, of course there are a lot of Celtic league sides in the 1/4 finals.

    Oh wait, no, there's Leinster. The only one that ever reaches this stage. Ah, thats right.

    Considering there are 6 teams from the Top 16 and GP each that can all stake their all at being the cream of Europe, while the CL's only competitive teams are Leinster and the Scarlets, it makes a joke of the tournament, especially as the IRU get 3 spots from 4 teams.
  7. DonBilly

    DonBilly Guest

    I don't know what prat means but I guess this is no a reference to Jean Prat or his brother.

    35 professional sides? And so what? You must compare apples and apples, the 6 Nations represent something like 180 million inhabitants. That's at least three times more than SANZAR countries.

    The SH have 14 teams at their regional level, you should compare with the NPC or the Curie Cup. Then you'll get more than 14 only.

    Are you going to ask for the 6N to become 3 in order to be comparable SH?

    Anyway, I think that the H-cup should be reorganized to reduce the number of dates. I think that direct one-match elimination matchs would be right. 16 teams would represent 4 rounds, 32 5 rounds.
  8. DonBilly

    DonBilly Guest

    Well I think that this is not what Blanco wants, he wants the LNR and Rugby Premiership to take control not the RFU and FFR.

    Otherwise I agree on that reducing the number of Celtic or Italian sides is not good for Rugby development. Blanco is at the head of the LNR, so this means professional Rugby and therefore business. He wants basicaly the clubs to make more money. He also proposed a world championship for the clubs.

    In his interview to the Midi Olympique he mades the following statement that if there was a real will of developping Rugby the RWC should have already been organised or planed either in Japan or Argentina...
  9. There are teams in the GP who go into the H Cup who just don't perform, but no one is saying that the number of GP teams should be reduced.

    This is just the French and English trying to act like they own NH rugby.
  10. loratadine

    loratadine Guest

    what about munster - there a joke are they?
  11. Exactamuno.

    If the Celtic sides are so poor then how come Edinburgh and Llanelli both bet the Wasps? How come Cardiff humped Leeds 40-13? How come the Ospreys bet Stade Francais? Why did Munster win against Castres quite comfortably? Ulster beat Saracens. I could go on, but that would be childish.

    The English and French sides have more resources open to them, so of course they are going to be better. More money and better squads mean a good team. The Celtic sides don't have the same resources and perhaps that's maybe due to the organisers of the CL, I don't know. But what I do know is that the H Cup is capable of throwing some great upsets in the group stages, and just another try here or a missed kick there could put a Celtic side through.
  12. Bullitt

    Bullitt Guest

    Is that really helping Cardiff's case? - They conceded 13 against them! :lol:
  13. Black-Monday

    Black-Monday Guest

    The CL seems very poorly run to me, only 703 went to Connact versus Borders. Although would you really want to travel down the road/across the irish sea to watch?

  14. Aye, but they also scored 40!
  15. Yes it has been poorly run with no title sponsor, and I think an independant body needs to be set up in order to help things, as would a long term sponsor.

    Personally, if I had the money and the time, I would go accross to Ireland to watch the Gunners, or down to Wales. Geographically though, it's not ideal for anyone. Aside for the Borders, Glasgow and Leinster it would take alot of travelling for me to go watch them play.
  16. DonBilly

    DonBilly Guest

    What's the point with the title sponsor? As far as I know the Top14, Super14, SL or NRL are not sponsor names and this doesn't prevent these leagues to exist and to be reasonably well managed.
  17. The Super14 does, or did when it was the super 12 at least, have a title sponsor I think though those leagues are already well.

    The Celtic League is a new league, and so it needs as much advertisement as possible to get people interested. It would also generate some revenue for the sides and would allow the poorer sides in the league to benefit. There's only so much the teams and their respective unions can do.
  18. loratadine

    loratadine Guest

    well david moffet did try to get some sort of euro league set up - but it didnt even get to the drawing board as the english and french believe they are demi-gods and are very much wrapped up in their domestic competitions
  19. Why would they bother dispanding the Guiness Prem or Top14?

    Both draw big crowds, produce good competition, and act as very good domestic leagues.

    Who would you allow into the European League, and who would you cut out? And England and France would still have to be allowed more sides because they have bigger domestic competitions.

    So that would solve absolutely none of the problems.
  20. SmokeyMonkey

    SmokeyMonkey Guest

    The point is that the Celtic League isn't a proper league since there's no relegation or promotion, It's kinda like the NFL.

    Put it this way at the moment it's about:

    7 French
    6 English
    4 Welsh
    3 Irish
    2 Scottish
    2 Italian

    At the moment France and England have about 1/2 the teams in the comp.
    Now personally I think that's about fair.

    (and also I think the Scarlets, Edinburgh and perhaps Ulster could've gone through if they were in the Blues group)
  21. An Tarbh

    An Tarbh Guest

    Well relegation isn't really an option for the Celtic league. If they want a compromise over the number of teams then get rid of the playoff and give the Italians 3 places, there should be at least 1 Welsh, Scottish and Irish team in the Challenge Cup.

    If the Welsh go to 3 Franchises then a playoff between the top French and English side who fail to make the HEC on their league position would also appease them.
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