The English media and the Irish media have more or less diametrically opposing views on the new PRL - Heineken Cup dispute. Just to give a quick rundown,
The English media say the Heineken Cup is financially unfair and anti-meritocratic with a qualification arrangement biased towards the Rabo clubs. The unions, particularly the IRFU, are "intransigent" and obsessed with maintaining their own power and control while their opponents, Mark McCafferty and the PRL, are increasingly exasperated. They also seem to object to the presence of the ERC headquarters in Dublin. The IRFU, and "the Irish" generally, with all their Heineken Cup victories, are the real bogeymen of this dispute according to the English media.
The Irish media reckon that issues surrounding qualification and finance are all red herrings and have largely been conceded to anyway in negotiations. They say its all about the clubs taking over the running of the game from the Unions. Its a play for power on the part of the English clubs. The English clubs have no interest in the development of the game
Here are some of fine examples. In one corner, you have the likes Brian Moore, Stephen Jones, and Paul Rees. In the other are arranged Gerry Thornley, Neil Francis and co. Here's how far we are apart.
Brian Moore writes on the presence of the ERC headquarters in Dublin in the Daily Telegraph
"The Irish, especially their tame media, hysterically denounce any move away from this convenient arrangement as greedy, knowing full well that their influence will dissipate if this geographical link is severed."
Gerry Thornley responded on Newstalk:
Brian Moore should read his own paper, particularly the Telegraph, the Guardian, and a lot of other papers - with the honourable exception of the London Times - who just toe the PRL line from word go and just back their clubs and anytime there's a statement by anybody else they go straight to rent-a-quote Mark McCafferty and quote him verbatim, and present the Rugby Champions Cup, which was never going to get off the ground, as a fait accompli. So, if there's any tame media around it's in his own garden."
Stephen Jones, a fanatical partisan of the Aviva Premiership, has rowed in firmly behind the clubs
Fifteen months after first giving notice, incensed by what they see as the intransigence of the other nations to initiate change, they effectively walked away from European Rugby Cup, the body that organises European club competition. In doing so, they seem to have condemned the Heineken Cup to history. Next season, they intend to run a new cross-border tournament. Those who wish to join them, can... But when Philip Browne, chief executive of the Irish Rugby Union, said last week: “We have people telling us what they want and [they are] not prepared to move themselves”, it seemed to some to be the most outrageous example of the pot calling the kettle black.
Neil Francis weighed in last week, in the wake of Nigel Wray's comments on the possibility of an Anglo-Welsh tournament.
The inevitability of PRL's dishonest and irresponsible attempt to break away and form the Rugby Champions Cup which came to a crashing conclusion last week brought into stark focus some of the central characters in this sorry episode. It served to magnify just who they were and what a disaster it would have been if these bandoleros had seized power and sought to govern the game in this part of the world.