Heineken Cup: Stuart Lancaster says it's vitally important European tournament continues

Last Updated: 10/01/14 1:09pm

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Stuart Lancaster: European rugby vital in World Cup year

Stuart Lancaster: European rugby vital in World Cup year

Sky Bet

Head coach Stuart Lancaster admits it is vitally important that a European rugby tournament continues next year to improve England's chances of winning the 2015 World Cup at home.

England last hosted the tournament in 1991, losing in the final to Australia, and have been drawn in Pool A for next year's competition alongside the Wallabies, Six Nations rivals Wales and the winner of a play-off between Fiji and the Cook Islands in June.

Lancaster hopes the long-term wrangling over the future of European competition can come to a swift resolution after English and French clubs signalled their intent to leave the European Rugby Cup-led Heineken Cup as far back as July 2012.

Existing contracts for the tournament expire this summer, with Aviva Premiership clubs still pushing for their rival Rugby Champions Cup.

"I think if we had a choice we'd rather they played in Europe, no doubt about it."
Stuart Lancaster

The International Rugby Board stepped into the saga this week, bidding to secure a future for a pan-European club tournament.

"I think if we had a choice we'd rather they played in Europe, no doubt about it," Lancaster said. "We'll just have to wait to see how it plays out.

Too early

"I'm aware of what's going on but I'm not directly involved. It could be a blow if the competition doesn't come to pass, but it's too early to say and we'll just have to wait and see because no one knows yet what will happen."

Former Leeds coach Lancaster is desperate to see his England stars continue to take on Europe's elite next season and beyond.

"From my personal point of view I would hope it does get resolved," he said. "Look at the games this weekend, they are all exciting.

"You've got players playing at the highest level in games where the result really does matter.

"You can't afford to lose one or two games in Europe and not expect to qualify. So certainly that's the RFU and my position as well.

"But as to how it plays out, like everyone else I'll just have to wait and see."

Watch all the action as the Heineken Cup resumes on Sky Sports HD channels and red button this weekend

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