RFU shy away from Euro spat
Wed, 18 Sep 2013 15:29
We will make our views extremely clear in private
RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie has refused to get involved in a public row with the organisers of the European Cup with the future of the competition still in doubt.
European Club Rugby (ERC) president Jean-Pierre Lux alleged on Tuesday that Ritchie told him that English clubs would not break away from the tournament and form an alliance with French sides.
The current row based on revenue, distribution and qualification for sides from the Pro12 saw English and French teams give notice to leave the ERC tournament at the end of this season.
Lux accused clubs on both sides of the Channel of using 'guerilla' tactics and PRL - the English clubs' organisers - said last week that negotiations were finished and they were prepared to go it alone.
Ritchie believes the row will be defused but not in the public domain and only if talks are held behind closed doors.
"I am not going to give a negotiating position in public because I believe it is better to see if we can bring everyone together," Ritchie told reporters at an event to mark two years to the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
"We will make our views extremely clear in private. This is something that is important and we need to get it resolved.
"People inevitably feel passionate, feel committed and want to say something about it. As far as I am concerned it is better to deal with these things in private.
"You would not expect me to comment on that."
Ritchie will be involved in the discussions which could continue on 23 October in Dublin after ERC invited all interested parties to thrash things out.
And the RFU man believes a compromise can still be reached which will derail the mooted Anglo-French alliance and encompass all rugby-playing countries in Europe.
He added: "A definition of a European competition means that you have got to have most of Europe participating in it. Our view is that we would seek to achieve a European competition that involves clubs from Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France or wherever.
"It is important for our clubs in England and the game that all of Europe should be and needs to be involved in that, and what we are trying to do is facilitate that. We are there to see if we can bring that end objective about.
"You are ever optimistic. There are passionate strongly held views on all sides in this thing and I totally get that. It is sensible for us to get to that end conclusion. I hope and believe we will get to that."
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