Sunday, 23 March 2014

Rumoured details for the new European domestic tournament

Euro pot. clubs

A few further rumours have emerged on the new third tier European domestic tournament to involve more sides from outside the 6 Nations.

In The Rugby Paper this Sunday it was mentioned that the new tournament (in a system run by a new Switzerland based governing body) will consist of "Champion clubs from domestic competitions in Italy, Georgia, Russia and Romania".

Whilst it's important to note that absolutely nothing is confirmed in regards to this tournament, the time constraints due to the continuously delayed deal over the European tournament's future has made it more likely we will see a very small scale tournament in the initial season.

There is still no word as yet whatsoever in terms of detail of the funding of this tournament. There is also no rumour as to the format either. However there has been rumour that FIRA, the governing body for the ENC and European age grade tournaments, may be the ones looking after it.

The same paper also included quotes from a PRL spokesman, which suggests that they will be very much looking to significantly grow the new tournament to take advantage of and promote the domestic scene in some notable TV markets.

"It's about creating a better Europe for the benefit of everyone. As from next season, the developing rugby nations will, for the first time, be playing in a European competition knowing they have a pathway to the top. If they're good enough they could be playing in the Champions' Cup in five years. Now we can really push back the frontiers to include cities outside the Six Nations circuit, like Geneva, Milan, Barcelona, Madrid and Brussels."

From the rhetoric, it does seem that the new governing body is reasonably serious about the tournament taking place. And it looks as if it will be with clubs taking part not the development sides we saw this year in Lusitanos XV and Bucharest Wolves.

Although the change from the ERC run tournament may seem small, in theory the deal is considerably better both for the sides outside the 6 Nations and for the secondary European competition itself.

The amount of spots for sides outside the main 3 leagues is decreased, but considering the Italian clubs hogged them the amount is more or less the same for nations outside the 6 Nations. But instead of the ERC run competition, which cherry picked sides based on convenience opposed to competitiveness, the meritocracy (if done properly) should mean considerably stronger sides will be in the tournament which should improve the product.

There is still a paucity of information leaked about the tournament compared to what the rest of the European system which most is already known, but we should get more details soon that will clear up and confirm the format. There are concerns that Eastern Europe could get a rough deal, much like they do to an extent in international rugby, compared to the Western Europeans. Hopefully soon we will find out.

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