Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 2 October 2014

Football greed not a good example for rugby

Telegraph Sport: where the debate starts

Mark McCall's Saracens have enjoyed the rub of the green this year
Mark McCall's Saracens have enjoyed the rub of the green this year

I'm sure I am not alone in wondering if Saracens against Toulon in rugby's Heineken Cup final at the Millennium Stadium on May 24 could just be a sign of things to come once the European new tournament gets under way next autumn.

Two already money-stuffed English and French giants going head-to-head for yet more of it? Worrying.

The much-loved Heineken Cup format was overthrown by clubs from the Aviva Premiership and the Top 14. As of October, European club rugby will be a whole new largely-money-driven ball game, not least because the English clubs once more forced their country's Union to bow the knee.

That may just prove to have been a very bad day for rugby union, for already those Premiership clubs are back looking for more.

Their latest demand is for £14m from the RFU as compensation for the late start to their 2015-16 season due to the Rugby World Cup being staged in September-October 2015.

Currently the RFU is saying 'no', but watch this space; based on what happened over the new Champions Cup those now-confident clubs believe they will win this stand-off too.

When one hears a man of Syd Millar's unrivalled experience and ability as a rugby player, coach and administrator express grave misgivings about where the professional game now is headed, one would be well advised to listen to his words of wisdom and warning.

There's another European football final on May 24. Hours after the Cardiff showpiece, rugby's round-ball cousins will do battle in Lisbon.

Rugby would do well to take a look at what club greed has done to that code and then ask itself if that is an example it wishes to follow?

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