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GCP_Jones. I hear this argument that the French clubs have bigger budgets. Yes they do. Much bigger. But the squad sizes are no bigger. And the season is much longer. So it's the same problem. They still have only 40 players (even if they are paid more than their Celtic cousins). These 40 guys need to play 29 T14 games, 10-12 test matches and then maybe 9 HCup games (and their priority is in that order, ie HCup comes last on the list).
It doesn't matter who you are. If you're injured or just plain knackered, it doesn't matter how much you're getting paid. You'll still lose against fresher, less injured teams.
I ask you a different way. What would Leinster do with a 4x bigger budget? They cannot buy more players, right? They would still have only 40. So they could buy better players, right? But it's still 15 vs 15 on any given day. If their more expensive players are injured, they still lose games, right? Even if they're more expensive.
What Leinster would certainly NOT do with a 4x bigger budget is agree to play 29 intensive club games per season against other sides with equally massive budgets in a never-ending money-go-around that grinds their players into the dirt. But that is the catch22. It's only by participating in and winning this money-fuelled "arms race" madness that you get the 4x bigger budget. The problem is circular.
Or if they did agree, they would soon stop winning HCups!!
Posted 12:56 16th September 2012
A couple of points the overall attendences in the Pro 12 have gone up year on year. Your point that you make has some merit as I have said in previous posts, but Planet Rugby, Yourself and others lambasting the Pro12 sides have yet to anser my question, so may be I will try again.
How can you argue that its a fair playing field when the likes of Toulouse can have a budget of ¿28 million?. Also out of all the french teams taking part this year how many will be arsed about it, may be Toulouse, Clermont and Biarittz.
So the aviva(who are becoming isolated) sides must also raise these questions or the talk of a level playing field is just rubbish
Posted 12:41 13th September 2012
Lets get one thing right ok,qualification for the HEC on merit doesnt bar any team,wheather irish,welsh,scottish or italian.All are capable of finishing in the top6 of the Pro12,with the possiable exception of the Zebras ,because no one knows how they will play yet as ,alot of new players no ones heard of ect.The simply fact that teams atm dont even have to try ,is the issue ,and imo devalues the league,and makes it an irrevalance,and also devalues the HEC as the pinnacle of european club rugby..When the HEC 1st started it made sense to have national quotas.It was a new competion ,and no one knew if supporters would turrn up to watch ect,so adding a bit of national pride into the mix certinally helped launch it ,and make it a success.But time marches on and now nearly 20yrs after its inception,the rugby world is very different ..The english and french clubs obtain 80% of their income from their leagues,which are vibrant with growing attendances,they really dont need the HEC for survial,and so prioitise their league campaigns.In contrast the Pro12 clubs do need the HEC for survial,because the Pro12 league atm ,just doesnt genarate any meaningful income,it has falling attandances,and as Edinburgh proved last season ,the matches are meaningless,are they one of the four best in europe or the worst celtic club??,they cant be both ,yet going by last season they are.Pro12 supporters need meaningful matches and something to be excited about,otherwise attandances will continue to fall ,and eventually clubs will go bankrupt and close.The big shame is the rugby played in the Pro12 is generally of very good quality,but only one man and his dog are watching.
Posted 12:19 01st September 2012
Good point you made about the title "Rugby Championship" and I did think it was a bit odd and inappropriate. In my opinion there should be some reference to the 4 countries involved. However at least it does not take the title of a geographical area that includes other major rugby playing countries which aren't included.
There already is a European cup and if England and France want to have their own Anglo French cup it would be very inappropriate to name it the European cup and may well have legal implications
I agree that it would be good to have a more competitive Rabo league but I'm not sure there are enough players and clubs to make much of a difference.
Surely we would like to see rugby increase in popularity in countries like Italy and Scotland and if it were to then the Rabo may well become competitive.Excluding these countries clubs would not do it any good and just widen the gap between them and the larger more wealthier clubs.
In regards to your comments on Quotas and ethnicity I may be talking cross purposes but there are a lot of us that still like to support our local club that has a lot of local players in it. By local players I mean those normally living there, those who grew up or were born there.
Posted 21:47 31st August 2012
As ive posted elsewhere i see HEC qualification on merit ,as a 1st step in making the Pro12 a revalent league and competion,.Edinburgh proved beyond dought last season ,that the league is an irrevalence ,and the league games just dont matter and are meaningless.How can you finish 11th out of 12 team league ,and still qualify for what is supposed to be the pinnacle of club rugby in europe ??How about those teams that finished above Edinburgh in the league ,and didnt qualify,and if Leinster hadnt won ,that would include Connacht.So if where a team finishes in the league is meaningless ,doesnt that make all the games meaningless.Just what have fans got to get excited about and cheer their clubs for or fear i wonder,no qualification battles .,no relegation,and meaningless games.No wonder attendances are dropping year on year for league games.The fact is the Pro12 doent generate any meaningful income,for the clubs atm,and without a HEC most would be bankrurpt,or totally funded by their union.Now atm the IRFU is flush ,on the back of their clubs HEC successes,while the WRU and SRU by comparision are not,Teams may survie in Ireland but in Wales and maybe Scotland teams would have to fold ,or the national team ,would suffer in the comming years .Celtic fans your choice a vibrant ,relavent league like the AP or T14 or clubs maybe closing and the national team maybe suffering aswell.
Posted 16:44 30th August 2012
In many sports , the world Cup , the Olympics, inclusion is seen as the way forward for the growth of the sport.
Qualification is setup to allow wider participation. For the long term good of the competition
If the pro 12 are restricted to 6 teams , I¿d expect that the top pro12 teams would just get stronger ,
as they will have the money & the clout to attract the better players.
But at the end of the day the top 5 HC teams (Toulouse , Leicester ,Munster ,Leinster Rugby ,London Wasps )
Have won 13 of the 17 Finals & contested 20 of the 34 Finalists spots. Will any of that change ?
Could it be that Leicester are not the team that they were in 2001/2002 or Wasps as good as in 04/07.
And with the exception of Brive in 1997 the only French team to win is Toulouse , would that improve with a harder group stage ?
Be careful what you wish for
Posted 15:47 29th August 2012
can we just burst the myth about Celtic success, there isn't any. There is loads if Irish success but I haven't seen anything for the other Celts to crow about.
It would also interesting to see the stamina of Leinster going forward given an ageing squad combined with the intended IQP quotas intended. The lustre certainly seems to have gone from Munster's crown since their, otherwise reliable pack, has just got too old.
The English and French problem is that the competition has some significant inequalities Cardiff Blues are the highest European ranked Celtic side besides the Irish but would not have qualified for the HC under the proposed scheme.
The ranking system in Europe means that sides get ranking points simply for turning up, this means that seedings can be skewed against sides who, by virtue of having to qualify for the competition, aren't always able to earn points in it whilst those sides who qualify by virtue of their divine national right - may have a more positive despite being an inferior side.
My feeling is - top 6 from the three leagues qualify - with the next 6 from each league playing a pre-season knock-out competition for the remaining 6 places.
Posted 19:43 28th August 2012
@ liam2me - congratulations on your recent computer skills course. the ability to copy and paste is a step in the right direction!
Until someone can explain, justify and reconcile the fact that The Zebras automatically qualify for the HC, I'll support the French and English stance on this.
Perhaps England and France will leave, but they'll take the TV rights and revenue with them. Then let's see how everyone else is doing in a few years' time, eh?
@ 7ton - if the French and English form their own competition, they could call it anything they like. If the SH 4 Nations can call their comp "The Rugby Championship" and as long as there's no copywrite issues, I think we can call it what we like. It would be the copywrite issues, rather than which teams play which dictate it.
Just to be clear, I don't have an issue with being beaten by better teams. What I have an issue with is weaker teams qualifying over better teams by right. We'll wait and see how the Zebras fare, but I bet they'd get beaten by most AP and T14 teams. So the competition isn't on merit, it's on quotas. And quotas hark back to an era none of us want, with positive discrimination and players picked for their ethnicity, rather than their ability (and I am fully aware that this, I'm sorry to say, still goes on).
Posted 12:15 28th August 2012
It's like they should have some sort of european competition to see whose better. No wait they have one........
Posted 18:08 27th August 2012
@griffi60. totally agree. there is something truly special about the big HCup days. the crowds know it. the players feel it. but with a level playing field, any of Quins, Saracens, Toulouse or Clermont could have won - not just Leinster. Leinster are good, yes. But they don't have special powers you know!!
@5lock4ward. A much debated question indeed. There's a bizarre circular logic to it all. Because T14 is so long, you need big squads. Cos it's so long, there's also a lot of $$$, so you can buy foreign stars. Cos the galacticos are there, you get even more TV $$$. It would be interesting to see T14 cut to T8, only 2 foreigners per team, salary caps etc. Then we would see genuinely "French" clubs. And a stronger French national team I imagine.
@DJP23. the same Edinburgh that rests Denton and Rennie vs Leinster in the Rabo (despite being close to bottom) to keep them fresh for QF vs Toulouse? Also, re Celtic dominance, how did the Celtic teams fare in the Amlin??
@gauca. totally agreed. In it's current format, the French don't need the HCup as much as the HCup needs the French.
Posted 14:25 27th August 2012
@Dub_Len_Irl. Totally agree. (I should possibly preface any comment with an apology for being slightly provocative on some of these earlier threads). I think your argument re a "turning point" is spot on. For a long time, Toulouse could half-heartedly drift through the HCup. Cruise the early games. Play 10 minutes here and there. Throw a few away fixtures. Not worry too much. Probably still get a home QF. Or if not, just send out the big boys to win away from home in the knock-out rounds. Play a whole 40 minutes at proper intensity. Not anymore!!
The reason? The Celts got their act together. Some smart politics in getting a decent share of TV revenue, together with consolidation into provincial sides so that the $$$ are not spread too thin, and hey presto, Celtic provinces should dominate/win every year.
The upshot? Some tit-for-tat politics. Toulouse don't need the HCup. It's a distraction. They're only interested in taking part if they think they can win it without trying too hard and without impacting their T14 campaign. Only way to do that is to break the Celtic provinces up into smaller teams. Force them to have 3-4 sides each in the HCup (and 3-4 more in the Amlin - NOW THAT WOULD BE INTERESTING!). Force the Rabo to be meaningful in terms of qualification for HCup etc etc
Then Toulouse can go back to the old ways. Win HCups without breaking sweat too much.
But why should the Celtic provinces agree to that?
So we have the impasse.
(and meanwhile we all have to endure endless bragging by parvenu provinces who suddenly think they are the "best team in the NH, club or international" because they have unsurprisingly won a few HCups that Anglo-French clubs have long stopped caring about......urrrrrggghhhhhh.....)
Posted 14:13 27th August 2012
I read the comments by the Premiership Rugby chief executive Mark McCafferty said: "Most of the Ireland squad will not be released for the Pro12 until rounds three or four, something they could not do if they depended on their finishing position in the league for European qualification.
But is he not aware that the Irish International Players are centrally contracted and Irish provinces are required by the Irish Union to limit International Players game time (Player welfare) , And despite not fielding some of the internationals ( who had been away at the world Cup ) , Leinster ¿ who have been the dominant force in Europe of late still led the Pro Twelve at the end of the season. The turning point is that teams like Leinster now have squads that can take on the Big French clubs (Claremont , Toulouse) who can nearly field two ¿A¿ sides full of international¿s .
The result of limiting the Pro 12 to 6 would end up being most likely (looking at the last 7 years of the pro 12) with the exclusion of the 2 Italian teams , 1 Irish( as it is now) , 1 welsh( as it is now) , and more than likely one Scottish ¿ if not both.
With the odd time Ulster or Ospreys, Scarlet¿s & Blues missing out .
Leinster & Munster have been in the Top 6 Pro 12 teams every year over the last 7 , Ospreys & Scarlets & Blues all but once & Ulster outside twice.
Glasgow & Edinburgh have made the top 6 5 time¿s between them with the Italians , Connaught & Dragons never making it.
Posted 12:23 27th August 2012
I'm genuinely gutted to think that people are even contemplating the end of the Heineken cup. It's a brilliant competition and has served up some of the best rugby matches ever seen. I can understand some frustration about a few sides who maybe shouldn't be in it, ok change the selection process to the top 6 or 8 teams in the Rabo, the big teams would all still get in. Are people really suggesting that any other team apart from Leinster deserved to win last year??
The calls of some people on here for drastic changes such as a world tournament or Anglo-French cup are just ridiculous and show what poor losers you are. Face it, the Irish sides are on top at the moment but it won't last forever. Maybe instead of moaning the English/French teams should be concentrating on their own game and trying to get back on top next year.
Anyone calling for the end of this tournament must never have been to a big match. I was at the final last year, eventhough we lost (I'm an Ulster fan) it was an epic occasion and I'm sure there are many more to come.
Posted 11:55 27th August 2012
I wonder how competitive these French and English sides would be minus all their imported mercenaries. Not trying to be a troll just saying maybe they need a reality check before bashing the Celts and Italians in terms of competitive equilibrium.
Posted 01:25 27th August 2012
Re the Scottish teams...
That would be the Edinburgh side who reached the Semi-Final?
And the Glasgow side that finished 4th in the league, and were the only pool runners up not to proceed in European Competition.
I think the English sides simply need to face up to the fact that they aren't very good. The Irish budgets have increased exponentially along with their success.. but i don't begrudge them that. It just smacks of the English being sore losers
(Does anyone seriously think the English would have agreed to a change in the competition during the Leicester/Wasps domination?)
As for the French.. Once their sides start treating the competition seriously (Bar Clermont and Toulouse) maybe then the Celtic nations should look into their concerns. However, the power is currently with the Celtic nations. 3/4 of the Semi Finalists were Celtic. The Six Nations Champions were Celtic. Maybe that suggests we're doing the right thing?
Posted 21:46 26th August 2012
Agree about the Italian side and I think that currently there should be just 1 Italian team and maybe the same for Scotland. I think that each 6n country should have at least 1 team in the comp.
I understand your point about game congestion in the T14 and it is a problem. However even if you made the Rabo more competitive and congested the French and English clubs would still have this same problem.
Just because somebody has a problem it is not right that the same problem should be imposed on others.
Surely the answer is to try to figure out a way to reduce the congestion for the English and French clubs.
Posted 15:13 26th August 2012
Get rid of the H-Cup. Get rid of Super Rugby. Let England, France, NZ, Oz, South Africa, Argentina, Celts and Italians all have their own provincial competitions. The winner of each goes to a tournament of champions to determine the best club team in the world; which is what we all really want to know anyway. Then go into the international season. This was no country could complain of playing too much rugby. Better for the players. Better for us.
Posted 00:58 26th August 2012
Hopefully the arguement is not about the quality of competition in the Pro12 but rather the lack of competition to get into the HC. the French comments last week were aimed at Pro12 clubs ability to rest players at will while the week before the T14 was involved in scraps for the title, relegation and HC qualification.
I agree with you, I think the welsh/Irish sides are there on merit this season - but why the hell are Edinburgh in here having finished second bottom in the Pro12, Treviso who finished 3rd from bottom and Zebre qualified replacing the side that finished bottom in the table .....? Fair to who ....? I'd say it's unfair to the other sides in the Pro12 that finished above all three!
Competition is good for everyone - make it the top x (pick a number) teams from each of the main leagues automatically qualify then there's no arguement. I think the majority if not all Rugby fans want this competition to continue don't you?
Posted 22:09 25th August 2012
With the less wealthy clubs losing their good players would the idea of transfer fees be any good?
Posted 19:56 25th August 2012
The French and English clubs could well form their own comp. but they wouldn't have any authority to call the winner "Euro champions" Anyhow this is besides thepoint and just detracting from the proper debate.
On merit if I think that the Welsh and Irish teams in this years HC (I assume Ireland have 4 teams re Lienster winning it.) merit being in the comp on their ability the argument being simply they don't have as much difficulty to qualify. What can we do,
Have a English Scottish Welsh league and a French Irish Italian league and scrap the Rabo Top14 and Aviva or just scrap the Rabo and include the others in the Top14 and Aviva?
Have a system of qualification through the Amlin with relegation from the HC each year?
If we are going to reduce the no. of Celtic teams then sholdn't we also reduce the ammount of English and French teams.
Posted 17:35 25th August 2012
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