Premiership clubs want RaboDirect PRO12 counterparts to have to qualify to compete in Heineken Cup
Last Updated: October 8, 2012 7:21pm
Ian Ritchie: Rugby Football Union's chief executive has backed calls for reform in the European game
Rugby Football Union chief executive Ian Ritchie has backed Premiership clubs' demands for a reform of the Heineken Cup.
Top-flight teams in England and France have served notice on the current European participation agreement, seeking changes to the qualification system and greater financial rewards from 2014.
At present, the two Scottish and two Italian teams are guaranteed places in the Heineken Cup every year, and heading into a meeting of European rugby executives in Rome they were not willing to compromise on that position.
Their English counterparts, however, want to see clubs in the RaboDirect PRO12 qualify on similar grounds as those in the Premiership and French Top 14.
"We want to try and help bring that agreement together, recognising that it is very important to have a good highly competitive, meritocratic competition that exists across Europe," Ritchie said.
"I think we certainly support a view - most people do - that some change in the competition would be a good idea.
"How far it goes, what the nature of it is, is the discussion that has to be had.
"It is in the interest of everybody to have a strong and vibrant European club competition. Those are the objectives we share with PRL and most of the other stakeholders as well.
"It needs to be dealt with as a matter of urgency and priority but there is time to resolve it. I always start from a presumption there is an agreement that should be reached. Inevitably it will involve some compromise on all sides."