In an email sent earlier last week, League President René Bouscatel asked his peers for an indulgent welcome in the new European Cup formula. It really wasn’t heard …
It is Tuesday night, shortly after the EPCR (European Cup Management Authority) formalized the entry of five South African provinces (Pretoria Bulls, Cape Stormers, Durban Sharks, Cheetahs de Bloemfontein and Johannesburg Lions) into the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup. season, National Rugby League President René Bouscatel wrote an email to his peers.
Throughout his letter, the Chief of Staff calls on his peers to publicly highlight the benefits of creating this competition, which he believes will strengthen “sports intensity” professional rugby. “The arrival of South African teams is an important step for EPCR competitions, which will increase the sporting intensity of competitions, writes former president Stade Toulouse. I am counting on you to comment positively on this announcement and to promote this arrival in the media, which comes at a time when EPCR is re-negotiating with broadcasters in the French, British and international markets. At this crucial business time, and after this successful closing phase of 2022, which, after the ups and downs of the last few months, has provided a very good picture of both competitions, it is essential that we all support EPCR to create a positive climate around this ad. “
Chavancy: “Just the idea of seeing European Stormers champions”
so what? Did René Bouscatel’s letter get into the “junk mail” section of club presidents? Nevertheless, the recommendations of the boss of the top 14 actors did not really follow, and in recent days La Rochelle President Vincent Merling opened the ball as follows: “I am not at all in favor of the arrival of the Republic of South Africa for the European Championship. […] We are completely at a loss of identity. “
The vast majority of rugby presidents have never opposed the entry of the South African provinces into the Champions Cup, but when they were consulted on the subject by the kaciques of the League or the EPCR, the two institutions will bear the travel expenses. teams, 12,000 kilometers separating South Africa from France. Despite the sporting interest in such a development, Henry Chavancy, captain of Racingmen, always seems austere: “Just the idea of telling me that Stormers can be European champions, I find it a bit … how to choose words … amazing, a little weird. I think we have great competition and I understand that other countries or clubs want to join it but I think it also risks distorting interest or at least a bit of the history of this competition.
“Pierre Mignoni, Lou’s manager, supported: “We are in the business world, not the European Cup world.” When Olivier Azam, the MHR strikers’ coach, increased the collateral damage associated with the overloaded plan: “I don’t understand what will separate us, except for a more difficult calendar. And that’s not necessarily what we should aim for a year before the World Cup, where we want to prepare our internationals as best we can.” Are they all wrong? And will we succumb to this new formula once the tournament starts? We will find out more in the autumn …