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French & English clubs position themselves for HEC debate

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Post by BigTrevsbigmac Thu Aug 23, 2012 3:43 pm

From the Grauniad,,


The leading clubs in the Aviva Premiership in England and Top 14 in France are ready to organise an alternative tournament to the Heineken Cup because they feel European rugby's premier club competition is weighted too heavily in favour of the Celtic nations.

Leinster and Munster have dominated the Heineken Cup in recent years, winning the trophy between them in five of the last seven seasons with Leinster champions three times in the last four tournaments.

Rivals in England and France believe the success of the Irish sides is largely because they are able to rest players regularly during the RaboDirect Pro 12 campaign as qualification for the following season's Heineken Cup is a virtual formality, something that is not the case in the Aviva Premiership and Top 14.

"Most of the Ireland squad will not be released for the Pro 12 until rounds three or four, something they could not do if they depended on their finishing position in the league for European qualification," said Mark McCafferty, the chief executive of Premiership Rugby. "The clubs in England and France have served two years' notice that we intend to pull out of Europe because there needs to be a level playing field.

"So far, the response from the other countries has been slow, even though we are not sabre-rattling. We have not been locked in talks and there is no meeting about the issue until the end of next month. Our view is that the qualification process needs to be changed so that it is entirely merit based – the top teams in all three leagues as well as the winners of the Heineken Cup and the Amlin Challenge Cup should make up 20 sides taking part."

The English and French clubs want to ration the Pro 12 involvement to the top six teams in the league, which would run a risk of Scotland and Italy, whose teams currently qualify automatically, not being involved in a Heineken Cup campaign.

"I think those countries have effectively made that decision by forming the Pro 12," said McCafferty. "It is like me saying that the Premiership has to provide a qualifier from the south-west. It cannot be good for the competition that you do not have the best sides qualifying. Aironi were disbanded at the end of the last season and the newly formed Zebres go straight into the Heineken Cup.

"Are the Italian teams ready for the Heineken Cup given their record? It is all put into perspective when some really big names are not involved and the system plays a role in the way Leinster and Munster have dominated the competition in recent years. European Rugby Cup Ltd is dragging its heels and I cannot understand it."

McCafferty acknowledged that the two sides were approaching the problem from different directions. "Some 80% of our business is the Aviva Premiership," he went on. "It is what drives our revenue and gates. I understand the Pro 12 model is different, but we cannot damage our core competition for 20% [the Heineken Cup]. ERC should know that we are serious and while the issue has to be resolved, everyone has to realise we cannot carry on as we are. If it is not, we would go to an Anglo-French competition and if others wanted to join us, fair enough.

"I feel for the Welsh regions because they are caught in the middle. They have financial issues and you cannot build a business on three home games. Ireland have a central system with the union funding everything apart from the overseas players. Wales are reliant on private money largely and they need a business with 15 home fixtures. I think changing the qualification for Europe would strengthen the RaboDirect."

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Post by Stone Motif Thu Aug 23, 2012 4:09 pm

I agree with the general gist of this but he makes a pretty stupid point regarding Leinster and Munster dominating because they can rest players for the first four rounds of the league. He's mentioned a top 6 criteria which I agree with but when are the Leinster and Munster not in the top 6 rested players or no? They could rest them another 2 weeks and still probably qualify.
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Post by LordDowlais Thu Aug 23, 2012 5:21 pm

What happens when they are still not winning anything in Europe ? The facts are that the English and French clubs are not good enough to win the HC at the moment, their teams are to jammed packed full of foreigners that have no affiliation to the jersey they are wearing our the town they are representing, I would suggest that the English and French sort out their own domestic affairs before they start sticking their oars into other unions affairs. I will say one thing, changing how the celtic league qualify for Europe will not make it any easier for them to win the HC, if anything it will make it harder as the regions/provinces will just recruit extra players to cover, after all it is a squad game these days. Also, this is not just about winning the cup, it is mostly about winning individual games, something that the French and English are finding harder to do against the rabo teams year on year. They are not dominating like they used to and even our weaker teams are pushing them all the way.

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Post by BigTrevsbigmac Thu Aug 23, 2012 5:31 pm

LordDowlais wrote:What happens when they are still not winning anything in Europe ? The facts are that the English and French clubs are not good enough to win the HC at the moment, their teams are to jammed packed full of foreigners that have no affiliation to the jersey they are wearing our the town they are representing, I would suggest that the English and French sort out their own domestic affairs before they start sticking their oars into other unions affairs. I will say one thing, changing how the celtic league qualify for Europe will not make it any easier for them to win the HC, if anything it will make it harder as the regions/provinces will just recruit extra players to cover, after all it is a squad game these days. Also, this is not just about winning the cup, it is mostly about winning individual games, something that the French and English are finding harder to do against the rabo teams year on year. They are not dominating like they used to and even our weaker teams are pushing them all the way.

LD,

You are right - it has nothing to do with winning the HC. But it has everything to do with qualification & having a more equitable way of achieving that.

Do you really think the Welsh Regions are in a financial position to 'recruit extra players to cover'?


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Post by Artful_Dodger Thu Aug 23, 2012 6:05 pm

Connacht don't rest players in the league and the English champions can't beat them - some people just can't come to terms with their teams not being good enough.

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Post by LordDowlais Thu Aug 23, 2012 6:14 pm

BigTrevsbigmac wrote:
LordDowlais wrote:What happens when they are still not winning anything in Europe ? The facts are that the English and French clubs are not good enough to win the HC at the moment, their teams are to jammed packed full of foreigners that have no affiliation to the jersey they are wearing our the town they are representing, I would suggest that the English and French sort out their own domestic affairs before they start sticking their oars into other unions affairs. I will say one thing, changing how the celtic league qualify for Europe will not make it any easier for them to win the HC, if anything it will make it harder as the regions/provinces will just recruit extra players to cover, after all it is a squad game these days. Also, this is not just about winning the cup, it is mostly about winning individual games, something that the French and English are finding harder to do against the rabo teams year on year. They are not dominating like they used to and even our weaker teams are pushing them all the way.

LD,

You are right - it has nothing to do with winning the HC. But it has everything to do with qualification & having a more equitable way of achieving that.

Do you really think the Welsh Regions are in a financial position to 'recruit extra players to cover'?


They would just use players from within their set-up and academies to cover for the rabo games that would be easier to win than others, also if they get to a position where a top six finish is almost nailed on then they could just rest all their players until the HC comes around again, all this is coming about because the top English and French clubs can no longer go to places like Ulster, Connacht, Scarlets, Blues, Glasgow and Edinburgh and expect to come away with a result. Changing how we all qualify in our league will not help them win the HC also they already have more teams in the competition then everyone else and now they want more at the expense of our league, thus making it easier again for the French and English to qualify, the way they want it is unfair for the sides in the rabo, if they can come up with a fairer way to do it then I would be all for it, but at the moment it looks as though the French and English are just trying to bully the rabo and I hope that all the unions in the rabo stand firm or else where will this end ? What if England and France start to finish towards the bottom of the six nations in the next few years, would they start finding something to moan about and want to change the six nations as well ? I know I will be told different by the English fans on here but if you look at it without patriotic eyes, which is I know is hard because I do the same for my country, but it does look as though the unions in France and England want it all their own way, I do not mind them changing how we qualify, but why should we sacrifice places so that England and France get more ?

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Post by AsLongAsBut100ofUs Thu Aug 23, 2012 6:17 pm

To paraphrase the English and French clubs: "we want more money". Call me a cynic ...

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Post by Ozzy3213 Thu Aug 23, 2012 6:26 pm

Sadly this thread will turn into a Welsh/English bickerfest very quickly, but for what it's worth I have long since argued that qualification should be solely merit based.

I also think the competition should be streamlined, as 6 pool winners and 2 best runners up into the knockouts is not a great system as generally you can work out before the pool stages begin which pools the runners up would come from.
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Post by beshocked Thu Aug 23, 2012 6:27 pm

ALAbut100ofus more like: "we deserve more money because many of our clubs are a bigger draw, we don't get enough of the pot, how can minnows like Connacht auto qualify for the HC whereas much more prestigious clubs like Stade Francais miss out?"

Artful Dodger still boasting about 1 win. Gloucester who came 9th in the AP did the double over your mighty side with no trouble at all. 1 win in 6 games in the HC is nothing to be proud of. It's very poor actually.


Remind us what happened to the current Pro12 champions in the HC.


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Post by HERSH Thu Aug 23, 2012 6:29 pm

How many Welsh, Scotish and Italian teams have won the HC?

I only ask as if it was a case of just resting players then surely these guys would do better in the HC.

At the moment there is an uneven playing field in the HC and that needs to be looked at.
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Post by Artful_Dodger Thu Aug 23, 2012 6:32 pm

Its not about boasting beshocked I'm just making it clear what a load of absolute garbage it is to say that resting players in the league has anything to do with the HC. Munster and Leinster are the only teams to do it and they could make top 6 in the Rabo with the squads they have at a canter. With the squad Leinster have they could probably finish top of the Rabo with their second 15 - how will the top 6 in the Rabo qualifying for the HC change that?

The other teams don't rest players in the Rabo, Ulster for example played their first team in the league all season and still made the HC final. There is a lot of very delusional English rugby fans who think that introducing top 6 qualification in the Rabo is suddenly going to make them win Heineken Cups again - I just wonder what it is they are smoking.

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Post by red_stag Thu Aug 23, 2012 6:33 pm

I don't think this has all that much to do with the fact English sides have not won the tournament in a few years.

Like Asbo I think this is about money. They want a smalller competition but do not want to give up any places.

As I understand it their proposal is:

- 6 RaboDirect Teams
- 6 French Teams
- 6 English Teams
- HEC Winners
- Amlin Winners

I would be happy to go along with that once the 6 RaboDirect teams included (1 Irish, 1 Welsh, 1 Scottish, 1 Italian and the next 2 best in the league).

I have a feeling we could see a compromise like that reached.
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Post by LordDowlais Thu Aug 23, 2012 6:34 pm

HERSH wrote:How many Welsh, Scotish and Italian teams have won the HC?

I only ask as if it was a case of just resting players then surely these guys would do better in the HC.

At the moment there is an uneven playing field in the HC and that needs to be looked at.

Why is it uneven ? Please do mot tell me it's because we can rest players in our league as it is a squad game after all, I am all for making the top 8 sides of 14 qualify,NOT TOP SIX, but you will still get the same results in Europe because the teams at the bottom of the Rabo are still loosing to the so called weaker teams put out against the top sides, and in the past few seasons the Irish more often than not will put a strong side out at home against the Welsh regions. So all this is just about getting more French and English teams in the HC at the expense of the rabo teams which is just wrong on so many levels. steam

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Post by HERSH Thu Aug 23, 2012 6:35 pm

Are you implying that all English fans are taking Drugs?

Don't forget that France feel the same way.
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Post by Artful_Dodger Thu Aug 23, 2012 6:36 pm

Laugh

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Post by HERSH Thu Aug 23, 2012 6:36 pm

- 6 RaboDirect Teams
- 6 French Teams
- 6 English Teams
- HEC Winners
- Amlin Winners


That seems very fair IMO, nice and balanced
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Post by LordDowlais Thu Aug 23, 2012 6:39 pm

HERSH wrote:Are you implying that all English fans are taking Drugs?

Don't forget that France feel the same way.

What are you on about ? Look if you want a bunfight, go and find one of Anotherworldofpain's threads, he will argue over pointles crap with you all day, I wont, so please stop trying to manufacture an argument with me, I have not mentioned any form of ileagal substances in any of my posts. OK

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Post by beshocked Thu Aug 23, 2012 6:40 pm

Leinster do rest players for the HC. That's pretty obvious. Leinster do have good strength in depth though.

Let's not be threatened by these Pro12 sides. The most dangerous by far is Leinster. Other than against them shouldn't our best sides be confident of victory?

The solution is to build more strength in depth and beat these Pro12 sides.

I don't have a problem against the Scots and Italians inclusion in the HC personally. Edinburgh have proved that when they put all their resources into the HC they can do well. Treviso are getting there slowly but surely. Glasgow focussed on the Pro12 which worked well for them.

I don't think Zebre deserve to be in the HC just yet. I would give them 2-3 years in the Amlin. Neither do I think Connacht deserves to be there - they won 1 game out of 6. The Amlin is their level.

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Post by LordDowlais Thu Aug 23, 2012 6:41 pm

HERSH wrote:- 6 RaboDirect Teams
- 6 French Teams
- 6 English Teams
- HEC Winners
- Amlin Winners


That seems very fair IMO, nice and balanced

But the French and English unions want extra places for their clubs and the places we loose to drop down into the Amlin, to make the Amlin more attractive to sponsers.

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Post by HERSH Thu Aug 23, 2012 6:42 pm

LordDowlais wrote:
HERSH wrote:Are you implying that all English fans are taking Drugs?

Don't forget that France feel the same way.

What are you on about ? Look if you want a bunfight, go and find one of Anotherworldofpain's threads, he will argue over pointles crap with you all day, I wont, so please stop trying to manufacture an argument with me, I have not mentioned any form of ileagal substances in any of my posts. OK

It wasn't aimed at you! chill out man. Hug

Good to see that you're a well balenced Welshman, chip on both shoulders. Whistle

I believe that isn't what they want by the way.
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Post by Ozzy3213 Thu Aug 23, 2012 6:43 pm

Artful_Dodger wrote:

The other teams don't rest players in the Rabo, Ulster for example played their first team in the league all season and still made the HC final. There is a lot of very delusional English rugby fans who think that introducing top 6 qualification in the Rabo is suddenly going to make them win Heineken Cups again - I just wonder what it is they are smoking.

That is patently not true. All Ulsters Irish internationals were rested from Rabo games at some point during the season. Ulster also put out some weakened sides in the lead up to the HC final. That is of course entirely their choice, and there is no criticism of that from me, but to try to claim they put out a first choice side all through the Rabo is nonsense. How many Rabo games did Ferris play last season?
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Post by Ozzy3213 Thu Aug 23, 2012 6:47 pm

LordDowlais wrote:
HERSH wrote:- 6 RaboDirect Teams
- 6 French Teams
- 6 English Teams
- HEC Winners
- Amlin Winners


That seems very fair IMO, nice and balanced

But the French and English unions want extra places for their clubs and the places we loose to drop down into the Amlin, to make the Amlin more attractive to sponsers.

Where does it say that England and France want more places. The OP suggests that the English viewpoint is that the competition be streamlined to 20 teams. I see nowhere in there that suggests we want more places.
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Post by beshocked Thu Aug 23, 2012 6:47 pm

Artful_Dodger wrote:Its not about boasting beshocked I'm just making it clear what a load of absolute garbage it is to say that resting players in the league has anything to do with the HC. Munster and Leinster are the only teams to do it and they could make top 6 in the Rabo with the squads they have at a canter. With the squad Leinster have they could probably finish top of the Rabo with their second 15 - how will the top 6 in the Rabo qualifying for the HC change that?

The other teams don't rest players in the Rabo, Ulster for example played their first team in the league all season and still made the HC final. There is a lot of very delusional English rugby fans who think that introducing top 6 qualification in the Rabo is suddenly going to make them win Heineken Cups again - I just wonder what it is they are smoking.

Let's be honest - Leinster resting players was a huge factor in beating Saints in the HC final. You could argue it was naivety on Saints part and they were foolish to rely too much on their 1st XV though.

Personally I think Zebre,Connacht and Dragons should be in the Amlin based on current form. (I know the Dragons are currently).

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Post by Artful_Dodger Thu Aug 23, 2012 6:47 pm

Ozzy, if the IRFU say we can't play Stephen Ferris then we can't play Stephen Ferris, we still put out our strongest team through the league last season with the exception of one game against Connacht towards the end. All through the groups in the HC we were putting out the best teams we could in the league, same for the quarters and semi's. The IRFU player management program is outside of Ulster control, so the IRFU saying we can't play Ferris doesn't mean we aren't putting out our strongest team. Ferris also picks up a lot of injuries.

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Post by Artful_Dodger Thu Aug 23, 2012 6:49 pm

Honestly - Its a bit like me saying how many games did Leicester Tigers play the first 15 in when half their squad was at the WC? I suppose thats Tigers resting players for the HC - ludicrous argument.

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Post by LordDowlais Thu Aug 23, 2012 6:49 pm

HERSH wrote:
LordDowlais wrote:
HERSH wrote:Are you implying that all English fans are taking Drugs?

Don't forget that France feel the same way.

What are you on about ? Look if you want a bunfight, go and find one of Anotherworldofpain's threads, he will argue over pointles crap with you all day, I wont, so please stop trying to manufacture an argument with me, I have not mentioned any form of ileagal substances in any of my posts. OK

It wasn't aimed at you! chill out man. Hug

Good to see that you're a well balenced Welshman, chip on both shoulders. Whistle

I believe that isn't what they want by the way.

O.k I apologise, it came straight after my post so I thought it was aimed at me. thumbsup Anyway, if you read the multitudes of bbc articles you will find that it is what they want, plus they want extra money as they think they have a larger fan base and generate more income for it. My attitdue on it all is get better, get further in the HC, then you will get more money. Instead it seems to be, lets moan and cry about it and instead of us changing we will make everybody else change to suit us, which is so arrogant and it really grinds my gears. Why don't they just man up and except they are not good enough and try and do something about themselves instead of making everybody else change.

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Post by HERSH Thu Aug 23, 2012 6:51 pm


I'm backing the Eng/Fra bid to get the HC on an even keel, the HC needs to be freshened up
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Post by Ozzy3213 Thu Aug 23, 2012 6:53 pm

Dodger, of course not putting out Ferris, or Best, or Wallace, or Court, even at the IRFU's behest, means that you are not putting out your strongest side. I am not blaming Ulster or the IRFU or criticising that this happens, merely highlighting that it does. The Irish teams are run under a different system to the English, or even the Welsh sides.

This is advantageous to them. Now it is easy to say "the English should get their house in order first", but the priorities of the English sides are different.
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Post by Ozzy3213 Thu Aug 23, 2012 6:54 pm

Artful_Dodger wrote:Honestly - Its a bit like me saying how many games did Leicester Tigers play the first 15 in when half their squad was at the WC? I suppose thats Tigers resting players for the HC - ludicrous argument.

It's not the same. The IRFU direct players be rested outside of recognised international windows. The World Cup affected everyone. it is not the same thing at all.
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Post by Artful_Dodger Thu Aug 23, 2012 6:57 pm

So Irish rugby has its priorities and English rugby has theirs - we're going round in circles here but I think I know who needs to change their priorities instead of trying to change other peoples.

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Post by LordDowlais Thu Aug 23, 2012 6:57 pm

Ozzy3213 wrote:Dodger, of course not putting out Ferris, or Best, or Wallace, or Court, even at the IRFU's behest, means that you are not putting out your strongest side. I am not blaming Ulster or the IRFU or criticising that this happens, merely highlighting that it does. The Irish teams are run under a different system to the English, or even the Welsh sides.

This is advantageous to them. Now it is easy to say "the English should get their house in order first", but the priorities of the English sides are different.

So everyone else should change to run in line with the English priorities then should they ? I wish I could say that to my bank manger. Laugh I can see it now. Um hello mr bank manager, I know you want me to pay you what I owe but, you see, I want to by a brand new ferrari and it realy is my priority so could you please alter how I pay you because me paying you is not my priority. laughing

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Post by Ozzy3213 Thu Aug 23, 2012 7:04 pm

Where have I said everyone should change their priorities to suit the English LD and dodger?


The basic premise is this.

The way in which teams have to qualify for the Heineken Cup is different, and as this is the premier NH competition everyone wants to be in it, and do well in it.

How teams have to qualify dictates to an extent what their priorities are, and I have no issue with how other unions work, they do what is right for them.

If the qualification criteria changed so that everybody had to qualify by the same means, then people still have the same choice available to them as to what their priorities are. That is all.

I don't actually understand why people are getting their knickers in a knot over this, it is fairly standard business practice.

Organisations A,B,C, and D are involved in a contract that has a set time for re negotiation. A nd B are unhappy with the deal as it stands so give notice of what they want to re negotiate. If they cannot all agree a new contract A and B have to decide to stick with what they have or walk away.

The world will not end.

Keep smiling people! Very Happy
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Post by Artful_Dodger Thu Aug 23, 2012 7:10 pm

Well its fairly obvious that English rugby wants to force Rabo teams to play their strongest teams in the league whether they want to or not so it is about changing other nations priorities to suit England.

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Post by Ozzy3213 Thu Aug 23, 2012 7:12 pm

To suit England or to give an equal qualification route?
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Post by red_stag Thu Aug 23, 2012 7:14 pm

I think Ozzy what is irritating most people is the French and English sides are not trying to get themselves a better deal.

They are trying to get the RaboDirect a worse deal.

I suspect if they were negotiating to get extra places for themselves or something it wouldn't have the same reaction.

I think it is very clear that the Rabo is expected by the Anglo French to conform to their system and it is what rankles a lot of people.

Personally I think its a bit of a storm in a tea cup. I think the ERC needs to be smaller tournament and I'm happy to see Rabo places given up for that once at least 1 team per nation is represented.
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Post by Artful_Dodger Thu Aug 23, 2012 7:15 pm

There already is an equal qualification route, each union decides the criteria for how their teams qualify.

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Post by red_stag Thu Aug 23, 2012 7:17 pm

Ozzy3213 wrote:To suit England or to give an equal qualification route?

Im sorry this is nonsense. It is equal. Each nation has places and can do with them what they wish.
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Post by beshocked Thu Aug 23, 2012 7:18 pm

red stag Connacht and Zebre should be in the Amlin Challenge Cup. It's their level. What good does it do these sides if they get repeatedly beaten in the HC?

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Post by AsLongAsBut100ofUs Thu Aug 23, 2012 7:21 pm

I imagine that the English and French clubs will claim that they want a better and fairer competition - part of this will be similar qualification rites, part of it will be a share of TV money that more closely matches audiences, etc. but I'm damn sure that the pursuit of fairness will not include them wanting all teams to operate on the same budget - perhaps that could be suggested to the French? All in the name of egalite, naturellement!

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Post by Ozzy3213 Thu Aug 23, 2012 7:21 pm

Stag,

I disagree slightly with what you say there, Lord Dowlais is clearly irked by his perception that the English do want more places.

The thing is, there are 3 leagues represented in the Heineken Cup. One is a collaboration league and two are national. As the leagues are different by design, it is always going to be difficult to get a system for qualification which suits all.

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Post by red_stag Thu Aug 23, 2012 7:24 pm

Beshocked,

I agree with you that Connacht and Zebre are not up to scratch. As I have said, I would not mind the reduction from 24 to 20 teams just like the Anglo French want and I wouldn't mind the Rabo only getting 6 places as opposed to their usual 10.

My only sticking point is that 1 team per nation is admitted.

So you have the highest Irish, Welsh, Scottish and Italian and the next two highest in the league.

Now maybe it would lead to for example Ulster fans who finish 5th giving out that 8th place Treviso are in the HEC but I don't think so. That has always been the ethos of the competition.


Last edited by red_stag on Thu Aug 23, 2012 7:26 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post by red_stag Thu Aug 23, 2012 7:26 pm

Ozzy3213 wrote:The thing is, there are 3 leagues represented in the Heineken Cup. One is a collaboration league and two are national. As the leagues are different by design, it is always going to be difficult to get a system for qualification which suits all.

Lads. Forget about the bloody leagues.

There are 6 Nations. Not 3 leagues.
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Post by Ozzy3213 Thu Aug 23, 2012 7:27 pm

Artful_Dodger wrote:There already is an equal qualification route, each union decides the criteria for how their teams qualify.

red_stag wrote:
Ozzy3213 wrote:To suit England or to give an equal qualification route?

Im sorry this is nonsense. It is equal. Each nation has places and can do with them what they wish.

It is not equal. In the English and French leagues it is solely merit based. That is not the case in the Rabo, it is merit and nationality based. The crux of the matter is this. The English and French see the Rabo teams as one group of teams that should all be competing against each other to qualify. They are not. They are four groups of teams who compete within those groups to qualify, with the exception of two of the groups, where all teams in those groups auto qualify regardless of performance.

How that can be seen as an equal qualification route I do not know.

Look, if I was Welsh, Irish, Scottish or Italian I probably wouldn't want it changed either, and I can see both sides of this particular argument, so I will simply repeat what I have said a number of times which is that I believe that the Heineken Cup should be streamlined, and effectively all leagues/unions should have their places in it cut as a result.
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Post by Welshmushroom Thu Aug 23, 2012 7:29 pm

Ok well I have no sympathy for the French for starters. The sides that usually qualify have about 4/5 times bigger salary budgets than everyone else. If you cant build a squad on that basis to comfortably challenge on many fronts then you probably are doing something very wrong.

The French actually have been treating the HC with distain at any rate. I've lost count how many times I have seen half their qualifiers roll out sub standard teams because they clearly have no interest in the tournament. To be honest Premier Rugby need to be careful with allying themselves with France because I have read reports that infact they are looking to increase their league teams and matches (as they are more profitable that the HC).

I have heard not one French report stating that they would join a Anglo Welsh Cup.

English Clubs flog their players because they dont have the resources to build the squads they used to have say 5-10 years ago before the Celtic Nations became more proffessional. Now that we can retain our International players easier they cannot poach our best players or at least find it very difficult as the French tend to outbid them easily.

I personally think the counter argument should be let no one qualify automatically but instead play a total random draw knock out to qualify for the pool stages. But I doubt McCafftery would aggree to a model that could see English Clubs lose 20% of their income if no one qualified (not that I'm saying it would happen but if there was a possibilty).


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Post by red_stag Thu Aug 23, 2012 7:34 pm

It is not equal because the English and French choose it not to be. You know that.

All 6 Nations get a certain amount of places and do with them what they like. England and France chose to keep a high number of teams and let them fight it out for qualification. Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Italy have chosen to have smaller numbers with less intense battles for qualification.

But it is an equal system - each country gets places and can do what they like. England could set up 6 regions and get guaranteed Heineken Cup rugby each year. But I certainly have no desire to force that upon them.

Like you I believe it should be streamlined and I wouldn't mind giving up 4 "Rabo" places to achieve it. But there must still be representation from each nation.
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Post by beshocked Thu Aug 23, 2012 7:34 pm

Red stag I agree 20 is a good number.

Could be 8 Pro12,6 AP, 6 Top 14

Top 2 Irish and Welsh, Top Italian and Scottish. Best 2 teams after these.

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Post by red_stag Thu Aug 23, 2012 7:37 pm

Beshocked,

I'd welcome your proposal with open arms.

In fact I wouldn't mind if only 1 Irish and 1 Welsh team was guaranteed a place with the Amlin and Heineken Cup winners getting a place too.

I think thats important. It does definitely need reducing to 20.
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Post by Ozzy3213 Thu Aug 23, 2012 7:42 pm

Stag

I disagree with you about whether there MUST be representation from each nation.

The Heineken Cup should be an elite competition where the best teams in Europe slug it out for the crown. By ensuring that all nations have a representative you effectively weaken the competition.
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Post by Welshmushroom Thu Aug 23, 2012 7:42 pm

I'd also add that the Rabbo gives our youth a better platform to develop. This develop has resulted in 2 things:-

A greater sense of identity from players to regions/provinces, resulting in more committed displays.

Greater exposure resulting in a quicker development of players. This is directly evident when we see the amount of players getting capped in Wales, Ireland & Scotland.


And on another note. Ireland, Wales & Scotland have clear designs on getting better internationally. They recognise that their top players cannot challenge the best teams in the World if they are asked to play 30+ games a season. England rest their stars in just the same fashion so please dont make it sound like its a Celtic thing. The reality is no side has won the HC with a large foreign contingent on the park and basically English and French leagues are crammed full of them, whereas Celtic sides keep their Foreigners down to a nominal small figure (and in the Irish cases they really have brought some top draw SH stars into their rosters).

Also I would argue that actually the top side in both the French and English leagues do actually have it just as easy in qualifing for the HC. Why? Because the truth is that over 50% of the teams competiting do not have the quality to challenge them over the coarse of a season. This is why largly we tend to see the top 6 actually not varying greatly each year (with maybe the occasional 1 or 2 new addition).




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Post by red_stag Thu Aug 23, 2012 7:44 pm

By that logic we could say that maybe one year we don't include any French teams if they aren't up to scratch and give their places to England and Ireland.

Or that we don't include Italy in the 6 Nations as they are weak.

The ERC is based on the six individual nations. It would be a massive priority to me to retain that.
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