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IRB: English stand-off not a concern

Wed, 27 Aug 2014 09:25
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Tournament organisers are confident a brewing row between the Rugby Football Union and leading Premiership clubs won't overshadow next year's World Cup in England.

Premiership Rugby, the umbrella group which represents England's 12 leading clubs, is looking for a reported £14 million (US$23 million, €18) compensation package in return for shutting down the league in September and October when the World Cup takes place.

International Rugby Board regulations require that no elite competition is staged while the World Cup is ongoing.

But Premiership clubs, who stand to lose £1.2m each in the event of a league shutdown, are unhappy at the expectation they will suspend the competition come what may even though they were not consulted about the original World Cup bid.

According to a report in the Rugby Paper, the RFU has offered £6m to the Premiership, but on the condition that players are released for further home Tests - with more following as part of a new agreement between the RFU and clubs due for renewal in 2016.

However, Debbie Jevans, the Chief Executive of World Cup organisers England Rugby 2015, was optimistic an agreement would be reached.

"I'm not party to the negotiations between the RFU and the Premiership, and nor should I be," said Jevans, as she announced the team base venues for the World Cup.

"All I can say is that there are good relations between us and the Premiership clubs - two of them are hosting games in Gloucester and Exeter, [London] Irish are also a team base - so the relationships there are good.

"I am absolutely confident that there won't be any disruption to what we do.

"We are working with them on the schedule in 2015."

Her comments came after Leicester Chief Executive Simon Cohen insisted playing the Premiership competition through the World Cup was still an option.

"Until suitable compensation is agreed we should look to play through the World Cup," he said Monday.

"There are ongoing talks between Premiership Rugby and the RFU, but the World Cup was an agreement between the IRB and RFU to which weren't a party, so to simply expect us to close down our businesses is simply not acceptable.

"It's like going back to the bad old days of serfdom and everybody is extremely angry that this agreement was entered into with an expectation that we would shut down."

In recent years England has largely avoided the bitter rows between the national governing body and its leading clubs that have bedevilled the game in Wales.

But back in May, the chairman of Saracens, last season's Premiership runners-up, highlighted the issue of World Cup compensation as a source of friction.

"The RFU should sort that out properly - and haven't yet," said Nigel Wray.

"Ian Ritchie [the RFU Chief Executive] is a decent man and, in all fairness, we should be able to reach an accommodation."

Jevans was speaking at north-east junior club side Darlington Mowden Park's Northern Echo Arena home ground, one of 41 team bases in England and Wales for the World Cup.

The Arena will host world champions New Zealand for six days during the tournament, with All Blacks coach Steve Hansen having inspected the facilities personally - to the delight of arena and events manager Danny Brown.

"For someone who has been involved with rugby for the best part of 20 years and maybe a little bit more, to meet someone of Steve Hansen's calibre...It was great just to meet him, let alone sit and have dinner with him, show him around and show him what our facility is and talk him through it," said Brown.

"He couldn't have been any more complimentary about the Arena and the area.

"New Zealand have got to be classed as one of the biggest sporting teams in the world...To have them on our doorstep in Darlington is fantastic."

Source: AFP

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