Well what an improved European Rugby format that is

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Post by quinsforever on Sun Jan 18, 2015 8:06 pm

Round 6...

only 1 team has qualified for the quarter finals

as BOD said this evening - "this is unique. to have 11 teams still with a shot of making the quarter finals and only 1 team already qualified come round 6"

not a single dead rubber group come round 6. what a massive improvement that is on previous HC formats.

my picks for qualifiers. In order (first 4 get home quarters)

clermont
wasps
toulon
saints
toulouse (win group but not home QF)
RCM92
Saracens
Bath

NB - as a quins fan i admit that our group with leinster and wasps is the tightest. but i fancy wasps to deny leinster a LBP and thus qualification.

looks like a fair reflection of the actual quality of respective club rugby. without loaded draws by virtue of too many walkover matches.

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Post by HammerofThunor on Sun Jan 18, 2015 8:12 pm

By my reckoning (might be off) 6 teams had already qualified by the last weekend last season. Saracens just had to win at home against Connacht to take the last runner up spot, then Leinster and Saints fighting it out in their pool (but not against each other.

Better? Dunno. But I prefer it.

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Post by TJ on Sun Jan 18, 2015 8:19 pm

nonsense - its devalued and diminished - methinks the lady doth protest too much. Sure its good for english fans - its designed to make it easier for english teams to qualify. For the rest of us - its a poorer format

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Post by GavinDragon on Sun Jan 18, 2015 8:20 pm

I cant say the quality of individual matches is any better if I am honest, but agree with the OP the amount of uncertainty going into the final round makes it exciting for the neutral

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Post by The Great Aukster on Sun Jan 18, 2015 10:38 pm

Cutting down from 6 pools to 5 automatically means there will be more teams in with a chance of qualifying for the quarters - 8 from 20 is bigger than 8 from 24. Doh

Without the drop down places to play for there are far fewer teams who will be trying on the last weekend, 8 from 20 is less than 11 from 24 - simple maths really.
Also the mixed coverage means that 'product' has been devalued as a spectacle with both broadcasters claiming to have the 'key' games.

Add in the ERCC lack of sponsorship and zero incentive for teams in terms of ranking points and the competition has delivered what was expected - a devalued shadow of the Heineken.

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Post by Rugby Fan on Sun Jan 18, 2015 10:50 pm

I'm enjoying it but I don't think we've indisputably got a better tournament on our hands. The Heineken Cup built its reputation over a long period, and this new format will have to prove itself over the long term too.

The groups are tight, and the rugby has been generally good but there are aspects like viewing figures, attendances, officiating, disciplinary procedures and TV coverage to consider too. One season isn't going to tell us a good deal about how those trends are likely to go.

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Post by quinsforever on Sun Jan 18, 2015 10:59 pm

its got largely the same teams in it. minus a few of the obviously weaker ones. and not a single group is decided in terms of its contribution to the QFs. and 7 of the 10 matches from the upcoming round 6 will have a bearing on who makes it to the quarter finals. compared to what 1 or 2 matches last year come round 6?

the sponsorship, etc, that seems to be the main gripe of the naysayers, will clearly follow if this level of competitiveness continues.

any complaints about quality of rugby are nothing more than navel gazing as the french and english quality of rugby is better this year than last.

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Post by maestegmafia on Sun Jan 18, 2015 11:10 pm

The eight richest clubs to make the quarter finals.

Rugby used to be a game where fifteen local guys played fifteen blokes from somewhere else.

Now it's a business, if your profit margins are good, you'll do well.


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Post by Welly on Sun Jan 18, 2015 11:24 pm

maestegmafia wrote:The eight richest clubs to make the quarter finals.

Rugby used to be a game where fifteen local guys played fifteen blokes from somewhere else.

Now it's a business, if your profit margins are good, you'll do well.



 It still is.

 Just not at pro level.

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Post by VinceWLB on Sun Jan 18, 2015 11:31 pm

maestegmafia wrote:The eight richest clubs to make the quarter finals.

Rugby used to be a game where fifteen local guys played fifteen blokes from somewhere else.

Now it's a business, if your profit margins are good, you'll do well.


Agree with you but some clubs aren't even making a profit, they are actually making big losses but i wont cite them. It's just they have big investors behind them, Wendyball style.

I think the new tournament marked the end of an era which was still dominated by the rugby on the pitch. Now it's just cherry picking. There is something wrong when a classic rugby team like Ulster ships away 60 points.

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Post by maestegmafia on Sun Jan 18, 2015 11:37 pm

VinceWLB wrote:
maestegmafia wrote:The eight richest clubs to make the quarter finals.

Rugby used to be a game where fifteen local guys played fifteen blokes from somewhere else.

Now it's a business, if your profit margins are good, you'll do well.


Agree with you but some clubs aren't even making a profit, they are actually making big losses but i wont cite them. It's just they have big investors behind them, Wendyball style.

I think the new tournament marked the end of an era which was still dominated by the rugby on the pitch. Now it's just cherry picking. There is something wrong when a classic rugby team like Ulster ships away 60 points.

I know Ulster are not having their finest season but that score was ridiculous.

There is no reason why we have to follow soccer as a model for professionalism. I'm not sure why we are letting it happen.

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Post by VinceWLB on Sun Jan 18, 2015 11:45 pm

maestegmafia wrote:
I know Ulster are not having their finest season but that score was ridiculous.

There is no reason why we have to follow soccer as a model for professionalism. I'm not sure why we are letting it happen.

It's a natural thing to happen in today's system, although "natural" isn't the best way to describe it...

I'm pretty sure a lot of soccer fans didn't want their game to become what it is now too. I don't think we can do anything about it unfortunately.

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Post by maestegmafia on Mon Jan 19, 2015 12:02 am

VinceWLB wrote:
maestegmafia wrote:
I know Ulster are not having their finest season but that score was ridiculous.

There is no reason why we have to follow soccer as a model for professionalism. I'm not sure why we are letting it happen.

It's a natural thing to happen in today's system, although "natural" isn't the best way to describe it...

I'm pretty sure a lot of soccer fans didn't want their game to become what it is now too. I don't think we can do anything about it unfortunately.

We know we can't. That's what the last two years belly aching over the euro comp was all about.


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Post by doctor_grey on Mon Jan 19, 2015 1:13 am

VinceWLB wrote:
maestegmafia wrote:The eight richest clubs to make the quarter finals.

Rugby used to be a game where fifteen local guys played fifteen blokes from somewhere else.

Now it's a business, if your profit margins are good, you'll do well.

Agree with you but some clubs aren't even making a profit, they are actually making big losses but i wont cite them. It's just they have big investors behind them, Wendyball style.

I think the new tournament marked the end of an era which was still dominated by the rugby on the pitch. Now it's just cherry picking. There is something wrong when a classic rugby team like Ulster ships away 60 points.
Rugby has always been a business with players being paid under the table.  But certainly and finally openly professional, and therefore a true sports business 20 years ago, not just now.    

So what are some of the business problems impacting competitiveness?  
Different business models in each of the constituent countries and lack of transparency in club/franchise finances.  We all take it for granted that many of the French clubs exceed their formal salary cap with impunity.  And some run at a loss picked up by their ownership.  Clearly this is incompatible with other clubs/tams who have to work within a salary cap or strict financial limits.  

As an example, Saints must operate within the salary cap and also must make a profit because they do not have a rich benefactor picking up the losses.  And since they issued stock to the public, they are accountable for any financial irregularities to the government.  They have to follow very strict rules.  

It is a worry that one or perhaps two Premiership clubs, which will remain nameless, may be over the cap.  If so, their collective balls should be nailed to the nearest wall, which may indeed happen if found guilty.  There seems to be no momentum amongst the remaining clubs in the Premiership to eliminate the salary cap.  Clearly that would lead to an uncontrollable and non-viable business, and really start Rugby down the soccer road.  Three major steps towards addressing the problem and maintaining competitive balance in the Premiership is transparency in player salaries, transparency in all other team/club/franchise/union finances taken together, and real effective punishments, also transparent and visible.  I believe this is the direction the Premiership clubs are slowly moving towards, with a couple of potential stragglers.  The NFL is the model I hear spoken about most often. We need the same from all teams in major competitions the NH.

I do think it is a surprise the Irish teams are not present in force in the Euro competition as is their usual.  Regardless which competition we have, last years or this years, it appears they are all having a down year by their usual lofty standards.  They indeed set the bar high.  And that makes Ulster's result against Toulon so much more shocking.    
 
Regarding the Welsh and Scottish Rugby, it seems to me we are now seeing the results of what can only be described as a botched transition to open professionalism 20 years ago.  As counterpoint, two different business models in our islands, England and Ireland, managed to get it mostly right.  The recent negotiations between the Regions and the WRU clearly highlight that Rugby in Wales is not sustainable as currently configured:  If the WRU and the Regions are fighting with near blood lust, then something is horrifically wrong within.  

"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves...."
Julius Caesar (William Shakespeare)


Last edited by doctor_grey on Mon Jan 19, 2015 8:05 am; edited 3 times in total

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Post by Rugby Fan on Mon Jan 19, 2015 1:21 am

It makes no sense to declare the competition morally bankrupt because of money. Teams haven't suddenly become richer since last year, so if wealthier clubs do better on average now, then there must be some other factors - luck included - which have had an influence.

If big player budgets go on to dominate the tournament over time, then that surely would have happened with the old Heineken Cup too. How would it not have done?

Unless, of course, the argument is that Pro12 teams did benefit from not needing a successful league campaign to guarantee qualification for the top European tournament. If that really is now being seen as a critical point of difference, then perhaps it wasn't such a good idea to castigate the French and English for having the temerity to suggest it when they proposed changes.

Still, if it is money which increasingly determines who makes it through to the final rounds - and means only a handful of clubs have a realistic chance of winning - then it won't be an enjoyable competition in the future. National rivalries add spice and colour to the tournament, and we need to keep them. Irish supporters may fear none of their provinces will make it past the group stages but English teams could easily become minor players. That doesn't sound like an outcome to please fans, sponsors or broadcasters.





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Post by LondonTiger on Mon Jan 19, 2015 8:45 am

Not even at the end of the first season it is dumb to say this is an improved format. Not enough evidence.

Equally it is dumb to say it is not.

But everyone is in their trenches and refuses to accept there can ever be any validity in opposing views.


All I can say is that it is fantastic that entering the last week of matches only one team is 100% guaranteed to be in the 1/4 finals. Should be an exciting final round of games.

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Post by Allty on Mon Jan 19, 2015 9:24 am

Got to agree LT

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Post by HammerofThunor on Mon Jan 19, 2015 9:31 am

Not even at the end of the first season it is dumb to say this is an improved format. Not enough evidence.

I think there is a typo in there somewhere. I'm going for...

"Even at the end of the first season it is dumb to say this is an improved format. Not enough evidence."

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Post by rodders on Mon Jan 19, 2015 9:43 am

Rugby Fan wrote:It makes no sense to declare the competition morally bankrupt because of money. Teams haven't suddenly become richer since last year, so if wealthier clubs do better on average now, then there must be some other factors - luck included - which have had an influence.

If big player budgets go on to dominate the tournament over time, then that surely would have happened with the old Heineken Cup too. How would it not have done?

They have actually - the English are getting a bigger piece of the pot now and also haven't they recently raised the salary cap (in both England and France) ? Some clubs are ignring it anyways...

The Irish provinces have the same budget but can't attract the same calibre of overseas player, which more money going on retaining the top irish players. Munster and Ulster have also made huge errors in their coaching set ups over the summer - getting rid of experienced overseas coaches in favour of bargain basement jobs for the boys set ups.

The antiquated underage set up of grass roots rugby is also coming back to haunt the Irish sides - lack of top quality training/coaching and scrummaging at schoolboy level means we have powder puff packs across the provinces and no decent forwards coming through to cover for our lessening ability to sign decent South African players.

The format hasn't helped but the chickens are coming home to roost now in Irish rugby, whilst the English are experiencing a resurgence due to increased budgets and financial incentives in this competition.

The Franglos dominating Europe is the natural order and the shape of things to come.
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Post by rodders on Mon Jan 19, 2015 9:48 am

Wasps will beat Leinster too. Sorry Leinster fans.

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Post by beshocked on Mon Jan 19, 2015 9:51 am

Depends what you want from a top tier European competition - improved competitiveness or more teams (not just the ones from England and France) taking part - regardless of their ability.

Some teams simply aren't performing well and are blaming the superior finances.

The Irish sides don't have a salary cap, they can match the English clubs if they choose to.


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Post by lostinwales on Mon Jan 19, 2015 10:03 am

Its a similar set of good teams playing each other - so in that respect its exactly the same as it always has. What it doesnt have is many dead rubbers this year. In that respect it is an improvement

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Post by Rugby Fan on Mon Jan 19, 2015 10:15 am

rodders wrote:...the English are getting a bigger piece of the pot now and also haven't they recently raised the salary cap..
The pot hasn't been distributed, and the salary cap changes come into effect next season.

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Post by rodders on Mon Jan 19, 2015 10:29 am

beshocked wrote:Depends what you want from a top tier European competition - improved competitiveness or more teams (not just the ones from England and France) taking part - regardless of their ability.

Some teams simply aren't performing well and are blaming the superior finances.

The Irish sides don't have a salary cap, they can match the English clubs if they choose to.


They are matching them, that's the problem - to be competitive they need to better them, as they were for a few years. Unless a bit of luck brings through a golden generation there isn't enough quality players, especially forwards being produced to compete.
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Post by beshocked on Mon Jan 19, 2015 10:53 am

It doesn't help that the Irish clubs qualification for the top tier European competition these days is harder (in the Heineken Cup it was basically guaranteed every season). A more competitive Connacht keeps the pressure on.

To be fair to Munster and Ulster they were in arguably the two toughest pools which hasn't helped either.

If you are struggling for good Irish coaches you could always try and coax Mccall and O Shea back.....

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Post by Bathman_in_London on Mon Jan 19, 2015 10:56 am

I'm not sure about the format being the catalyst but a final weekend with only 1 team already through is definitely a step up in terms of excitement and for the quality of the tournament as a whole.

Without getting into old arguments, I believe that a new format has had less impact that the cyclical nature of sport has. A few years ago, regardless of the format 3 of the Irish teams would be expected to qualify, whereas probably only Leicester would from England. In the same way, no matter what the format, Toulon and Clermont have such strong squads today that there is no way they wouldn't qualify.

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Post by rodders on Mon Jan 19, 2015 11:04 am

beshocked wrote:It doesn't help that the Irish clubs qualification for the top tier European competition these days is harder (in the Heineken Cup it was basically guaranteed every season). A more competitive Connacht keeps the pressure on.

To be fair to Munster and Ulster they were in arguably the two toughest pools which hasn't helped either...

Yeah I think both would have struggled to qualify on paper - but its the manner in which they've been emliminated.

Munster have been bullied physically 3 matches on the trot and went out with a whimper at the Allianz - that is worrying for them given they pride themselves on their European performances and often are at their best with the backs to the wall .,,, instead they rolled over. They have a new coaching set up but even so the last few weeks have been a poor show.

Ulster have some mitigating circumstances given the off season coaching and personel changes and never ending injury list. The damage was done failing to beat an off form Tigers and then getting beaten up at home againts Toulon. They just never even got going and in context the performance at the weekend was actually pretty good.

Leinster flattered to decieve a bit at the weekend, I think they will lose againt Wasps and scrape out of one of the easiest groups.

Connacht probably have been most impressive - with a better set piece they could well have beaten exeter at the weekend. They can take plenty of positives even if it was frustrating second half display.

Overall worrying enough times, but not unexpected for me. The writing has been on the wall for a few seasons but the humbling of Munster and Ulster is still painful viewing.
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Post by beshocked on Mon Jan 19, 2015 11:20 am

rodders I can understand the frustation but bear in mind it was pretty much a full strength Saracens side at Allianz Park.

Munster definitely seemed to miss the key figure of Conor Murray, in contrast Saracens had the underrated talisman Barritt back (he didn't have a great game but gives shape and structure)


This was one of their best performances of the season - high balls were caught, kicks were put into touch with accuracy, kicking from the tee was very accurate in general, scrum went well, physicality throughout, defensive line held firm in general.

Saracens' error count was relatively low which is generally a sign of a team playing well.

Munster quite clearly weren't at their best but when the opposition puts in one of their best performances of the season it's going to make things look worse.

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Post by rodders on Mon Jan 19, 2015 11:50 am

I'm not surprised to see a full strength Saracens beat Munster at all... I'm not even surprised to have seen the margin.

Thats probably the most disappointing thing - I think the expectation is well down and there is a sense of forboding now coming up against the top sides, that wasn't even there 12 -18 months ago.

The squads aren't good enough to compete, even some of the coaches (McGahan and Foley) were saying this at the start of the season.

I don't think a quick fix of cash injection for marquee NIEs is the answer - there has to be real scrutiny on the academies and whether the right people are being employed at Ulster and Munster in the backroom staff as well as the senior coaches.
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Post by Sin é on Mon Jan 19, 2015 11:52 am

beshocked wrote:Depends what you want from a top tier European competition - improved competitiveness or more teams (not just the ones from England and France) taking part - regardless of their ability.

Some teams simply aren't performing well and are blaming the superior finances.

The Irish sides don't have a salary cap, they can match the English clubs if they choose to.


Irish sides are restricted by only being allowed 4 NIQ players in their squads, so they can't use the cheque book as freely.
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Post by rodders on Mon Jan 19, 2015 11:56 am

They were free to use it on JJ ... but maybe the cheque he wanted would have bounced.... Smile
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Post by Cyril on Mon Jan 19, 2015 12:18 pm

I'm really enjoying the rugby this year. Some brilliant matches with plenty still to play for.

Bath and Toulon played some of the best rugby I've seen in recent times this weekend.

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Post by Cyril on Mon Jan 19, 2015 12:31 pm

VinceWLB wrote:There is something wrong when a classic rugby team like Ulster ships away 60 points.
Depends on your viewpoint. Tigers (and especially) Scarlets were much more competitive in Toulon and Tigers proved Toulon aren't unbeatable when they defeated them at Welfield Road.

Maybe Ulster aren't a 'classic' side any more or (more likely) it was one of those days when one side is on song and the other has injuries and is on a bit of a downward spiral at the moment.

It doesn't mean everything is wrong with rugby when you get results like that.

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Post by Sin é on Mon Jan 19, 2015 12:44 pm

rodders wrote:They were free to use it on JJ ... but maybe the cheque he wanted would have bounced.... Smile

It would have been mad to pay JJ £150K pa. It would have created havoc with wage demands (Paddy Jackson would be looking for double that as a starting outhalf for Ulster for example).

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Post by Sin é on Mon Jan 19, 2015 12:52 pm

I must say I haven't watched as many games as I would have last year (due to the split tv coverage and scheduling).

For all the talk of developing the secondary competition, its a shambles. Cardiff put 100 points on one of the Italian teams and some of the French teams are not bothering about it.

The financials of the new organisation took another nose dive by basing themselves in Switzerland with the Swiss Franc exchange rates (which means costs will now be 60% more than what they were in Dublin).

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Post by asoreleftshoulder on Mon Jan 19, 2015 1:41 pm

beshocked wrote:Depends what you want from a top tier European competition - improved competitiveness or more teams (not just the ones from England and France) taking part - regardless of their ability.

Some teams simply aren't performing well and are blaming the superior finances.

The Irish sides don't have a salary cap, they can match the English clubs if they choose to.


No we can't,we can't sign the very top tier foreign players and we can only sign 4 (down to 3 next year) foreign players max plus 1 project player who by definition won't be a top player.This means that we see a situation in Ulster where they badly need backrow players to bolster their squad and they are forced to go down to the AIL to find someone,they would have the finances to get some decent foreign players in to fill their squad but that option isn't available to them.

If each of our provinces had double the budget of Toulon we could each sign 4 top quality foreigners and keep all our best Irish players at home,that's it,we'd still struggle to compete with them since they don't have the same restrictions.

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Post by Cyril on Mon Jan 19, 2015 3:01 pm

Sin é wrote:For all the talk of developing the secondary competition, its a shambles. Cardiff put 100 points on one of the Italian teams and some of the French teams are not bothering about it.
These mis-matches have been there in the pool stages the last few years (at least). I remember plenty of 60,70, 80+ drubbings of Italian/Romanian sides. Perhaps it needs further culling and a proper third tier?

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Post by beshocked on Mon Jan 19, 2015 3:26 pm

sin e and asoreleftshoulder they are restrictions put on by yourselves.

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Post by Sin é on Mon Jan 19, 2015 3:28 pm

Cyril wrote:
Sin é wrote:For all the talk of developing the secondary competition, its a shambles. Cardiff put 100 points on one of the Italian teams and some of the French teams are not bothering about it.
These mis-matches have been there in the pool stages the last few years (at least). I remember plenty of 60,70, 80+ drubbings of Italian/Romanian sides. Perhaps it needs further culling and a proper third tier?

They sold this new set-up on the promise to promote and develop the 2nd & 3rd tier competition. Its gone backwards in both incentive and substance. Its not just the Italian clubs though - Gloucester put 55 on Brive. Cardiff Blues put 37-14 on Grenoble. Connacht 48-12 to La Rochelle. Stade Francaise couldn't be bothered. In short, the French clubs are not interested in this competition. Its got very little tv coverage (fortunately), no sponsor, and no incentive to win (like a spot in the Champs Cup).



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Post by Sin é on Mon Jan 19, 2015 3:31 pm

beshocked wrote: sin e and asoreleftshoulder they are restrictions put on by yourselves.

We know. As is the salary cap in England.

Its the reason why we are not as competitive as we used to be. Maybe the IRFU will lighten up after the world cup again.
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Post by BamBam on Mon Jan 19, 2015 3:50 pm

Sin é wrote:I must say I haven't watched as many games as I would have last year (due to the split tv coverage and scheduling).

For all the talk of developing the secondary competition, its a shambles. Cardiff put 100 points on one of the Italian teams and some of the French teams are not bothering about it.

The financials of the new organisation  took another nose dive by basing themselves in Switzerland with the Swiss Franc exchange rates (which means costs will now be 60% more than what they were in Dublin).


To be fair, I doubt the ERC or whatever they are called could have predicted the Swiss National Bank were going to lose the plot last Thursday

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Post by thebandwagonsociety on Mon Jan 19, 2015 3:55 pm

rodders wrote:Wasps will beat Leinster too. Sorry Leinster fans.  


Very likely, probably 14-18 points margin.

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Post by thebandwagonsociety on Mon Jan 19, 2015 4:01 pm

Sin é wrote:
beshocked wrote: sin e and asoreleftshoulder they are restrictions put on by yourselves.

We know. As is the salary cap in England.

Its the reason why we are not as competitive as we used to be. Maybe the IRFU will lighten up after the world cup again.

The IRFU would have budgeted for 2 teams to get out of the groups when sorting out the budget, so if anything there is probably a hit to be taken this year on the cash flows. If anything budgets will have to tighten for next year.

The real killer in the medium term won't be the headline contracts given to the Sextons, it will be the increase required in academy/post academy players standard salaries in order to stop them being picked off by the PRL and LNR teams. That increase across the board of the Irish provincial set ups along with the bandwagon(society) cash drying up will really impact the Irish teams in the next 3-4 years. If anything they did kind of see this coming and it shows why they have been tightening the purse strings.

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Post by VinceWLB on Mon Jan 19, 2015 4:03 pm

Write Leinster off at your own risks, they have been finding some good form recently and if there is one side who know how to raise their game it's them.

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Post by HammerofThunor on Mon Jan 19, 2015 4:06 pm

It's two Irish fans writing them off so they're not facing any risks. I doubt any Wasps supporters are as confident.

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Post by whocares on Mon Jan 19, 2015 4:08 pm

Time will tell if this format is better than it was but the split broadcasting in UK and giving the tv rights in france to a new sport channel are not helping the cause of increasing the tournament exposure. In the long run we also need strong and healthy pro12 clubs to compete with so the money is a real issue.

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Post by Kingshu on Mon Jan 19, 2015 4:25 pm

Not sure yet if it is better or not,
This weekend there are plently of teams that are not going to try, they are out and there isn't anything to play for, exccept pride.

These teams know its better to concentrate on the League and get better seeding for next year. At least in prevoius years at this stage there were ranking points at stake that would mean these games would be important for next year, instead that now is all down to League position.

In the current format, when you play someone will be a big factor in the groups.

Teams that will have given up,
Munster and Sale - lucky there game will have no effect on group outcome.
Castres - did they even try?
Ulster - Scarlets fans will prob be annoyed if they manage to get 5 points against a Toulon team, that have already qualified as group winners so no need for them to risk first team players, and an Ulster just roll over against Tigers as they have nothing to play for.
Montpellier - Did they even try,
Ospreys and Treviso - Lucky they play each other


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Post by lostinwales on Mon Jan 19, 2015 5:14 pm

whocares wrote:Time will tell if this format is better than it was but the split broadcasting in UK and giving the tv rights in france to a new sport channel are not helping the cause of increasing the tournament exposure. In the long run we also need strong and healthy pro12 clubs to compete with so the money is a real issue.

Absolutely, the big question is whose responsibility is it to develop strong and healthy Pro12 Clubs.

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Post by Brendan on Mon Jan 19, 2015 5:24 pm

While there is only one through i think you can pick which teams are in with a shout.

There is more than 1 dead rubber as pointed out above.

We also are not taking into account the 3 amlin places that were up for grabs that cause more meaningful games in the last round.

It says alot about the second Tier when the Pro12 sides are to give the English more compition. While the Quarters will be interesting (though I think Exter have to be favourites) what is the point of having the french. If you took them out you could have three groups and go straight to the semis, letting the French rest for their T14

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Post by quinsforever on Mon Jan 19, 2015 6:10 pm

my bets for quarter finalists. so many permutations, but here goes:

1 Saints (wont get tbp but points diff of +120 will see them top seed on 23 points)
2 Toulon (will get 5points vs scarlets to also rack up 23 points)
3 Saracens (home win on plastic pitch, no tbp - 21 points)
4 Toulouse (tbp win vs montpellier - 21 points, worse points diff than Sarries)
5 Wasps (home win at new ground, no tbp - 20 points)
6 RCM (lbp vs Saints - 20 points good points diff overall)
7 Bath (home win, need to target tbp depending on other results - 20 points)
8 Leinster or Clermont, (assuming both get a lbp then its about points differences ASM +48, Leinster +33)

so that makes the QFs as follows...according to my warped logic obviously
1 Saints vs 8 Leinster/Clermont (wow tough draw for top group winner!)
2 Toulon vs 7 Bath (would be gutted as would like to save this one for the final. Toulon at home strong favourites)
3 Saracens vs 6 RCM (home advantage favours sarries)
4 Toulouse vs 5 Wasps (advantage Toulouse)

if Leinster beat Wasps at the Ricoh, then they would slot in at 3 ahead of Saracens and Wasps wouldnt qualify at all.

i know it looks like i am favouring the english sides. the reality is they all have key home games which i think will make the difference. but clearlyLeinster have an excellent chance of winning. And Clermont too, although they got destroyed by Sarries last year in the semi final at HQ so do think it being in England makes some difference. Am expecting Saints and Bath to be fairly comfortable winners.

Once again though, it is very hard to look past Toulon for the overall win.

bookies have outright winner odds of
toulon 2/1
clermont 3/1
saints 9/2
sarries 4/1
toulouse 10/1
leinster 12/1
RCM 12/1
Bath 20/1

i would have thought Bath at 20/1 was a really good bet...until the guesswork above made me realise they have a good chance of getting toulon away as a reward for managing to beat glasgow!

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