IRB step in to try and resolve Heineken Cup row as uncertainty over European rugby continues

The International Rugby Boar has promised to 'work actively with its unions towards the goal of achieving a unified and acceptable outcome for all involved'

The International Rugby Board has stepped into the Heineken Cup row in a last-ditch bid to salvage the future of frontline European club knockout rugby.

Press Association Sport understands the IRB is ready to call all six top unions and relevant club bodies to a summit meeting to broker a final solution to the European wrangles.

No meetings are yet scheduled, but the IRB issued a statement on Wednesday night, formally entering the European dispute for the first time.

Concerned at the lack of a "common solution", the IRB pledged to fight for the "establishment of a truly representative pan-European rugby competition that fully complies with IRB regulations".

The IRB now hopes to end the impasse that was sparked by the English and French clubs giving notice in June 2012 they would not sign a new agreement with Heineken Cup organisers European Rugby Cup (ERC), when the tournament contract expired in summer 2014.

IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset said: "In order to reach an outcome that is in the best interests of rugby globally, the IRB will work actively with its unions towards the goal of achieving a unified and acceptable outcome for all stakeholders involved."

The RFU and Premiership Rugby (PRL) both threw their weight behind the IRB intervention, building fresh hope for a resolution.

The IRB did reiterate the world game's governing body cannot support any cross-border competition unsanctioned by relevant domestic unions.

That would severely damage the likelihood of a new Anglo-Welsh league, one of the counter proposals from Premiership Rugby if there is no full European contest next season.

But PRL reasserted their own commitment to a full Europe-wide resolution.

A Premiership Rugby spokesman said: "Over the last 18 months we have repeatedly made several different proposals for a pan-European rugby competition.

"These have even included a third-tier competition for developing nations, all of which benefit the whole of European club rugby.

"The clubs clearly understand any cross-border competition must be put before the unions of the regions, provinces and clubs participating."

It is understood the IRB expected the good feeling fostered by productive meetings at Heathrow on October 22 to lead to a quick resolution of this long-running dispute.

The hiatus since has led the world game's governing body to add their voice to the issue in an extra bid for mediation.

The English and French clubs want a fairer distribution of tournament revenue, and are pushing their TV rights deal with BT Sport, while ERC believes Sky hold broadcasting control beyond 2014.

It is understood revenue wrangles can be resolved by a three-way split between English, French and Celtic clubs.

Tournament governance remains the big sticking point however, with PRL and the French clubs now keen to see the RBS 6 Nations organisers assume control of the top European competition.

ERC naturally oppose that shift, and it is thought the Irish provinces are still similarly aligned.

The RFU are clear on prioritising a swift solution to include all six frontline European countries in a revamped competition.

RFU chairman Bill Beaumont said: "Our primary focus should be to maintain a genuinely pan-European tournament.

"Rest assured I am working closely with RFU CEO Ian Ritchie and other stakeholders to find a solution.

"I welcome the support of the IRB in helping to ensure that this happens and of course as a member union abide by and support the IRB regulations."

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat