European Cup will live on, says Sam Warburton amid disputes over future of Heineken Cup

Wales captain confident a solution can be found involving all nations in one competition

Sam Warburton has no clear idea of what the future holds for European rugby – the Wales captain's befuddlement places him in a majority of at least 99 per cent – but he knows this much: if the English and French clubs succeed in forming their own cross-Channel tournament in time for next season, the winners of it will not be able to claim mastery of all they survey.

"Would an Anglo-French competition suck in all the best players from the Celtic countries? I don't think so," the Cardiff Blues flanker remarked as he continued preparations for this weekend's Heineken Cup opener at Exeter. "And could the winners of it really call themselves European champions? No. That would be disrespectful, especially to Irish sides like Leinster and Munster, who have been such giants in the Heineken Cup over the last few years."

Warburton, fully recovered from the hamstring tear that prevented him from leading the British & Irish Lions in their final, triumphant Test of the summer series in Australia, said he was optimistic of a late solution to the boardroom conflict that threatens to sink the world's best club competition after 19 fractious but largely successful seasons. "I find it hard to believe there won't be a European Cup next year involving teams from every country involved in the current one," he said. "I'm quite relaxed about it all."

However, there was an interesting footnote. Warburton said that if there was no way of preventing the Anglo-French split and the three Celtic nations, together with the two professional sides from Italy, were left to play among themselves, the result would be a stronger version of the Pro 12 league. Ironically enough, one of the major English beefs with the Pro 12 as presently constituted is that it offers too many major participants too much of an easy ride. It is a convoluted situation, to be sure.

After a good many reports linking Warburton with a big-money move to France, fuelled by a lack of progress on a new Blues contract driven in part by the financial uncertainty stemming from the European ruckus, the 25-year-old forward reiterated his desire to remain at the Arms Park rather than follow his fellow Lions Jamie Roberts and Dan Lydiate across the water.

"I can see the positives in going to France and it makes sense for some people," he said. "Jamie is a free spirit and would have gone whatever the money on offer; Dan's fiancée is a French teacher and anyway, he feels he's developing his game over there. But I get looked after at the Blues. The facilities are outstanding and when I look at the quality of the young players coming through here, we'll be contenders for something if we can stick together for two or three years."

The European season begins tonight with three matches in the second-tier Amlin Challenge Cup, including an intriguing meeting between Sale and Biarritz in Salford. The Premiership side will field a serious line-up, although the outside-half Danny Cipriani, outstanding in last week's league victory over Bath, must be content with replacement status. The Basques, on the other hand, are reluctant go full tilt if their selection is anything to go by – a reflection of their parlous position in the domestic Top 14 tournament, where they are already nine points adrift at the bottom and contemplating relegation.

Some French sides have a well-earned reputation for placing European rugby low on their priorities, although Biarritz, twice Heineken Cup finalists, have never been among them. Might the same be said for the odd English club this season? Bath's decision not to register Kyle Eastmond and Dave Attwood certainly raises the question. For the record, rugby director Gary Gold said that as both were in the England squad for the autumn internationals, it was important not to overplay them.

Sadly, the Gloucester full-back Olly Morgan, who won a couple of England caps during Brian Ashton's spell in charge, has been forced to pack it in at 27 after failing to recover from a knee injury.

News
Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
News
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
news
Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own