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Griffiths grinning at a new Europe

Saracens chief executive Ed Griffiths has welcomed the creation of the European Rugby Champions Cup as a "win-win" for the northern hemisphere game.

The new 20-team competition will replace the Heineken Cup next season with revenue distributed equally among the Aviva Premiership, Top 14 and RaboDirect PRO12.

The top six clubs in England and France will qualify automatically alongside the top seven teams from the PRO12.

The final spot will be decided by the winner of a play-off between the seventh-placed sides in the Premiership and Top 14.

"It's good news for European rugby and takes the competition forward so that it's stronger in every way," Griffiths said.

"Anyone would look at the fact there's equal qualification from the three major leagues in Europe and say that's common sense. It's a fair deal on all sides and is a good compromise.

"This saga has always been about persuading people that it's not about one side getting one over another, it was always going to be win-win for everybody.

"That message has got through and we've now got this compromise that works well for everybody."

Northampton chief executive Allan Robson views the Champions Cup as the dawn of a new era with the Premiership clubs believing the Heineken Cup favoured the PRO12 financially and structurally.

"The news is a massive positive for club rugby across Europe," he commented.

"With four less teams and meritocratic qualification the quality and integrity of the Champions Cup will increase and we believe this will have many positive effects in a number of areas.

"Rugby cannot rest on its laurels if it wants to grow, and I'm sure that in a few years we'll look back at this moment as the start of a new era for the sport."

Regional Rugby Wales, representing the four Welsh Regions - the Scarlets, Cardiff Blues, Ospreys and Newport Gwent Dragons - added its voice to the chorus of approval for the incoming tournament.

"The regions are pleased that after giving their support to the Rugby Champions Cup last October, a new European platform has now been secured based on a strong core principle of equal distribution by participating clubs," read an RRW statement.

"We can all now look forward to a more developed, competitive and high quality European competition next season."

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