London, England, United Kingdom (4E Sports) – Premiership Rugby League (PRL) deputy chairman Bruce Craig warned that Celtic and Italian teams will face financial problems if they will not see action in the Rugby Champions Cup.
“The reality of it is that if the Rugby Champions Cup doesn’t happen, then the Celts will not be playing in a competition and they won’t have those distributions from that competition,” said Craig.
“People say the English and French clubs are greedy. The fact is we are losing money,” he added.
For it to succeed, the Rugby Champions Cup needs to be ratified by the International Rugby Board (IRB) and the French Rugby Federation (FFR).
The IRB and the FFR have indicated they do not support the proposed Anglo-French driven competition, while the ERC and Celtic and Italian unions favor mediation on the matter. The tournament would also legally require sanctioning from the French Minister of Sport.
“The unions should be approving that so there is continuity in English, French and Celtic rugby, because if there isn’t, there would be financial oblivion for the Celtic countries,” Craig said.
Earlier, Craig, together with the PRL and France’s Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR), drafted a structure for a tournament they insist will replace the Heineken Cup next year.
English and French clubs believe the European rugby’s current premier competition does not financially reward them sufficiently and the qualification process is unfairly tipped in favor of the RaboDirect PRO12 teams.
However, Craig believes that all 38 European teams “would probably agree” to join the new competition if given a choice
“It’s basically the Celtic Unions that would stop them from participating. Everyone would prefer that we didn’t go down the legal route. We all want a competition that is a fabulous European competition,” he said.