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Saracens chief: Rugby Champions Cup good for northern hemisphere

Last Updated: 11/04/14 5:32pm

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Saracens currently top the Aviva Premiership table

Saracens currently top the Aviva Premiership table

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Saracens chief executive Ed Griffiths believes the European Rugby Champions Cup will only make the northern hemisphere game stronger.

The newly-created 20-team tournament will begin next season, replacing the Heineken Cup as Europe's premier club competition, with revenue distributed equally among England's Aviva Premiership, France's Top 14 and the RaboDirect PRO12, which comprises teams from Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales.

The top six clubs in England and France will qualify automatically alongside the top seven teams from the PRO12, with the final spot going to the winner of a play-off between the seventh-placed sides in the Premiership and Top 14.

"This saga has always been about persuading people that it's not about one side getting one over another, it was always going to be win-win for everybody."
Ed Griffiths

"It's good news for European rugby and takes the competition forward so that it's stronger in every way," said Griffiths.

"Anyone would look at the fact there's equal qualification from the three major leagues in Europe and say that's common sense. It's a fair deal on all sides and is a good compromise.

"This saga has always been about persuading people that it's not about one side getting one over another, it was always going to be win-win for everybody.

"That message has got through and we've now got this compromise that works well for everybody."

New era

Griffiths sentiments were echoed by Northampton chief executive Allan Robson, who views the Champions Cup as the dawn of a new era.

"The news is a massive positive for club rugby across Europe," he said.

"With four less teams and meritocratic qualification the quality and integrity of the Champions Cup will increase and we believe this will have many positive effects in a number of areas.

"Rugby cannot rest on its laurels if it wants to grow, and I'm sure that in a few years we'll look back at this moment as the start of a new era for the sport."

Regional Rugby Wales, representing the four Welsh Regions - the Scarlets, Cardiff Blues, Ospreys and Newport Gwent Dragons - added its voice to the chorus of support for the new tournament.

"The regions are pleased that after giving their support to the Rugby Champions Cup last October, a new European platform has now been secured based on a strong core principle of equal distribution by participating clubs," read an RRW statement.

"We can all now look forward to a more developed, competitive and high quality European competition next season."

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