The European club rugby season kicked off in Cardiff yesterday, where we had the opportunity to speak with the captains and coaches of some of the English and Welsh clubs that will take part in the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup.
The 11 club captains were on hand at the Millennium Stadium to provide their thoughts ahead of the upcoming European season, including Test stars Alun Wyn Jones, Jonathan Davies, Chris Robshaw, Dylan Hartley, Matthew Rees, Steve Borthwick and Toby Flood.
We were fortunate enough to get some time for a casual chat with a few of the players and coaches ahead of what could be the final year of the tournaments as we know them.
ERC Chief Executive, Derek McGrath, who is of course tasked with trying to keep European club rugby together, spoke at the press conference, reiterating ERC’s strong commercial performance with the tournaments having generated 520 million Euro to the professional game since 1995.
The Heineken Cup kicks off on October 11th, with the Amlin Challenge Cup kicking off on the 10th.
You can view a portion of the press conference with Derek McGrath over on page two of this post
Thanks to Lloyd and Rockadove
Derek McGrath speaking on some of the key topics surrounding the tournament’s future.
“We stand by our record over the past 18 years of developing these competitions to where they are today. Right now, the Heineken Cup is the most successful club competition in the world that regularly delivers sell-out crowds, huge broadcast audiences and passionate support,” McGrath said.
“Last year we delivered 45 million euro to all the stakeholders and that could increase next season by a further 10 million euro based on current relationships and agreements.
“A mix of nations is critical to the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup, but to find a solution there has to be engagement, and also an acceptance from all sides that they will not get everything, and that there will be change.
“ERC wish to encourage everyone back to the table. We absolutely believe that we will only find agreement when we have the engagement of all parties.
“We have not had that yet despite 15 meetings over the last 15 months. We have had exchanges of positions from all sides, but no negotiations. All parties bear a responsibility, but my hope is in the tournaments and that common sense will prevail,” he added.