11 Apr 2014

New European rugby tournaments

7:09 am on 11 April 2014

European rugby clubs have agreed to launch three new continental tournaments after almost two years of conflict.

In a joint-statement, the nine stakeholders, the six federations and representatives from English, French and Welsh teams, also revealed that previous competition organisers European Rugby Cup (ERC) will be replaced by a new organisation based in Switzerland.

The new tournaments feature three cross-border club competitions to be called the European Rugby Champions Cup, the European Rugby Challenge Cup and a new competition called the Qualifying Competition.

The 20-team Champions Cup will be the showpiece event of the new format and replaces the 24-team European Cup, which had run since 1995.

The reforms, which have been in the pipeline since June 2012, conform to the wishes of the French and English clubs, who at one point threatened to launch a breakaway competition called the Rugby Champions Cup.

The negotiations initially stalled over the issue of television rights, after the English clubs signed a unilateral contract with British broadcaster BT that contravened an agreement between ERC and Sky.

It was only after Ian Ritchie, president of England's Rugby Football Union (RFU), found a solution to the conflict that the new arrangement could be reached.