By Alan Dymock
AS LIKELY to budge as a bachelor who has taken a wrong turn and ended up backstage at a Victoria Secret show, Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR) have joined Premiership Rugby in renouncing the European Rugby Cup’s (ERC) attempts to mediate an accord.
Although ERC have pencilled in a date for an independent mediator, Graeme Mew, to wade in and get the renegades and the status quo on talking terms on October 23, LNR chief Paul Goze yesterday reiterated LNR’s plans to back the splintering ‘Rugby Champions Cup.’
Talking to AFP, Goze said: “I totally exclude returning to negotiations, they have failed for fifteen months, they will not come to a resolution in a fortnight. There are contracts that have been signed by various parties that mean there are no opportunities.
“Creating a new competition will help us out of the trap which we have been in for several months. It is not just a desire to carry out a coup.”
He also said of Mew’s appointment: “He may be able to mediate on the organisation of the competition, but with regards to the fundamental problem of this competition, we have passed the stage of negotiation. We have reached a dead end and we must find a way out. If we do not take the initiative, he will not. ”
This stands in harsh contrast with the words of Bernard Lapasset, the IRB chairman, who also told AFP: “[We] will ensure we have a European competition which fulfils its name, which is not confiscated by some nations but has a real international interest.
“The IRB will defend this principle: not a privatisation of a competition in the interest of some people.”
These comments came 24 hours after the all-French launch of this season’s Heineken Cup, where mischievous Toulon boss Bernard Laporte said: “I saw the trophy today at the launch and the trophy said to me: ‘The weather is beautiful in Toulon and the girls are beautiful and I don’t want to leave’. That’s what I am going to say to my players.”
Perhaps the trophy does want to return to the south of France. After all, it could be the trophy’s final resting place or at least at this rate somewhere for it to gather dust while the arguments and conjecture go on and on.