English and French clubs to stand ground over Heineken Cup

Clubs insist talk of setting up new competition is real

If the Heineken Cup's beleaguered administrators thought they were strengthening the position of their ailing tournament by insisting that negotiations between the warring factions were still alive, and suggesting that the top-flight clubs in England and France might pull back from a breakaway by accepting arbitration, they were rudely disabused today.

The clubs were even more militant than they had been at the start of the week, when they confirmed their intention to set up an Anglo-French competition in time for next season.

Mark McCafferty, the chief executive of Premier Rugby, stated categorically last night that the leading English teams had no intention of playing in any tournament run by European Rugby Cup, the Heineken Cup organising body, after the conclusion of this season's event. "I don't know how many more ways there are to say this," he commented. "Our discussions with ERC are at an end. We are fully committed to setting up a new tournament with our colleagues in France, although as we've always indicated, we'd be more than happy if teams from other nations joined us."

Across the Channel, the Ligue Nationale de Rugby chairman Paul Goze was even more determined to drive the message home. "We're not threatening not to participate in the European Cup – we're saying we will not participate," he stated. "We asked for a revision of the format of the Heineken Cup and some financial redistribution and did everything possible to change things, but without success. Nobody can prevent us from establishing a new competition. The presidents of our Top 14 clubs have all given us their approval, which is why we can stand together on this. The English are on the same wavelength."

The ERC board, which includes Peter Wheeler of Leicester, said on Wednesday that "all parties" had reaffirmed their commitment to continuing discussions on a new European accord, but the English clubs question the accuracy of that assertion. Indeed, it is no longer certain that either Wheeler or the Toulouse president René Bouscatel will attend another meeting.

Meanwhile, Northampton will give the third of their big-name summer signings, the outstanding Samoan scrum-half Kahn Fotuali'i, a first competitive start in tonight's big Premiership contest with Harlequins at the Stoop. Fotuali'i, recruited from Ospreys during the summer, will line up alongside two Lions Test signings in the Wales wing George North and the England prop Alex Corbisiero.

Injury blows sting Wasps

Wasps have been dealt a double blow just a week into the new season. Winger Tom Varndell ruptured his biceps in training, while back-row forward Rory Pitman suffered ankle ligament damage in an A League game. Both are out for up to four months. Wasps are already without Elliot Daly, James Bailey, James Haskell and Phil Swainston through injury.

Suggested Topics
Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy as ECB finally wield the axe
Arts and Entertainment
a clockwork orange, stanley kubrick
film
News
news... you won't believe how bad their skills were
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas