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Welsh Rugby Union and Regions Remain in Dispute over the Heineken Cup

The Welsh RFU are still hoping to keep the Heineken Cup in place next season even though their 4 regions and the 12 Premiership clubs from England won't take part. The position that the clubs have taken could eventually push the question of who owns European club rugby into the high courts.

The Welsh and English clubs want the sport’s European competition to be under the control of the sides taking part rather than the unions. This would put commercial contract rights into the hands of the club owners who argue that they’re the only ones staking money on rugby at this time. There’s an impasse at the moment and it will need some form of negotiation which is what the Rugby Football Union’s chief Ian Ritchie has proposed to the Scottish, Welsh and Irish unions.

In a letter dated 4th January 2014, the world governing body sent a letter to the 320 member clubs outlining its next course of action following the regions’ failure to meet the 31st December deadline. The WRU has used the letter to insist that the Heineken Cup will continue with or without the English and Welsh sides. The French sides in the country’s top division are wavering but they have previously said that they won't compete unless the English sides are involved.

The worst case scenario for rugby fans is a truncated Heineken Cup without the 12 Premiership clubs, the 4 Welsh regions and the Top 14 French sides, with those sides playing their own competition. Having two competitions claiming to be for rugby union’s European club title would be very harmful for the sport.

Rugby, let's not forget has got a history of failing to listening to its clubs. In the past that led to the formation of Rugby League. Let’s hope that the current administrators can find a solution that works for everyone.

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