Anglo-French Moaning – Episode Deux

As an addendum to this morning’s post on a potential new HEC structure, lets explore how next season’s HEC would look following our rules. The automatic qualifiers would be as follows, with new entrants in bold:

  • France: Toulouse, Clermont, Toulon, Castres, Montpellier, Racing Metro, Stade Francais
  • England: Quins, Leicester, Saracens, Northampton, Exeter, Sale Sharks, London Bosh
  • Pro12: Leinster, Ospreys, Munster, Glasgae, Scarlets, Ulster, Treviso
  • Bonus Places: Leinster, the HEC winners, have already qualified, so lets give their place to the next best Pro12 team, Cardiff (as the Pro12 is one distinct qualifying competition now). Biarritz qualify as Amlin winners, as before. The top-ranked non-qualifier by our calculation is Edinburgh, pipping Perpignan and Bath.

So, its not all that different from now. The tournament would lose Aironi and Connacht and replace those with Stade Francais and London Irish. There is no doubt you have an uptick in quality as well as equity, and, lets be honest, Aironi and Connacht might benefit more from an Amlin Cup with had, say, the remaining 4 Frenchies, 5 English, those pair, the Dragons and 8 “developing” teams e.g. more Italians, or some Georgian/Romanian representative teams.

Its a pity in this imaginary scenario Embra didn’t miss out altogether because, lets face it, they deserved to for their derisory gaming of the system which has put other Pro12 teams in the crosshairs of the French and English.




  1. I do agree with a where you’re coming from lads, but I have two questions to put to ye:

    Firstly, do you really believe that Connacht are out of their depth in the HCup?

    Secondly, do you really believe that adding an extra English and French club improves the quality of the competition?

    P.S. Apologies for any inherent bias in the above post.

    • Stevo

       /  June 1, 2012

      It’s probably unfair to say that Connacht were out of their depth in the HCup, as some of their performance were very good, and indeed they beat the English champions. But if you look at their domestic performances during the HCup pool stages, their squad was clearly stretched beyond its capacity. They had something like a 12 match losing streak before that defeat of Harlequins.

  2. London Bosh, Montpellier, Castres and Racing Metro had exactly the same number of pool wins as Connacht although Montpellier had two draws as well. Not seeing much of an uptick in quality there.

    Montpellier were extremely poor in their match de barrage against Castres and Toulon v Racing Metro was also a bit of a borefest. Connacht v Quins was one of the highlights (for me) of the HEC pool stages.

    • Egg Chaser

       /  May 31, 2012

      We love seeing Connacht in the HEC but the reality is that they haven’t ever qualified for it by right – they are in thanks to Leinster. No doubt it is healthy for Connacht to be there but without qualifying directly they are not going to sustain it.

      In the current environment they need to finish above another Irish province, in our proposal they need to finish seventh – I know which we would consider easier!

      To be blunt, we think if connacht played London Bosh they’d lose most of the time, and if they played Stade, they would lose all of the time – so it is an increase in quality, if rather unromantic.

      Connacht have to earn the riggt to participate and a league-based qualification system can help them do so more regularly.

  3. anoonamous

     /  May 31, 2012

    I quite like the proposals you’ve put forward. It makes sense to have league performance mean something more than the current setup. I would like someone to question the Anglo French alliance about the Italians. They entered the rabo in good faith in an attempt to improve their standard of rugby from similar to the Irish system of the 90s (ie AIL & provinces only in H Cup) and now the English and French are looking to punish them 2 years later by removing them from HC altogether. Give treviso a shot every year and put Aironi (or their replacement) into the CC. At least 1 team from every nation makes sense. Lets hope the ERC can talk some sense into everyone involved.
    PS increasing the no in the French league is fucking madness! Why do the middling top14 chairmen not look to toulose and how the HC helped them become the powerhouse that they are. Guy Noves loves the tournament and the tournament loves him.

  4. HenryFitz

     /  May 31, 2012

    I doubt that Edinburgh rotated their squad any more than Leinster did, for example. They simply didn’t have the money to assemble a squad capable of competing in two competitions.

    The Entente’s argument should be broken down to what it is, which is an attempt to bring in more English and French clubs at the expense of teams from other unions. So who should be in and who should be out? The 3 Welsh regions all have decent records and are deserving of their places. The 3 Irish regions are amongst the competition’s elite. The two Scottish regions have good years and bad, but their percentages this year were good. Only the two Italian regions could be said to be undeserving, on merit alone, of being in the competition, but it would be lunacy for a supposedly European competition to exclude them. And why should they be excluded? So that mediocrities like Bath, Reading Irish, Stade Francais and Racing Metro can fail to distinguish themselves? What benefit is it to the quality of the competition and what’s in it for us, the members of the other unions?

    There is a separate argument to be had about the Rabo Pro12, which was always going to be a poor competition in a World Cup year, and where attendances have been falling in line with economic output. But there is no reason to capitulate to English and French bleating about unfairness.

  5. Ultra Sur

     /  May 31, 2012

    While initially I was dead-set against the proposals from the “Entente” (thank you HenryFitz), I’m slowly coming around to the general thinking that change needs to be forced upon the Pro12.

    When the IRFU were banging on about reducing the number of foreigners in the provinces (stay with me), the point was made by the blazers that Ireland was paying for/subsidising everything and therefore had to come first, even at the expense of the provinces’ success. I thought on hearing that the IRFU is clearly missing forward thinking strategists – the real potential for revenue growth is in the provinces. They have stated themselves that they have milked nearly every last drop of sponsorship out of the Ireland team – they can’t feasibly play any more matches or sell out any more stadiums.

    The provinces on the other hand (nearly there!) play every week in small stadiums and have proven they can attract new fans to the game. They have no competitors in professional sport and every person born in the country is automatically assigned to one.

    An enforced change in HEC qualification to the Pro 12 would instantly raise the profile of a competition that each province plays 11 home games in. The proposed change to qualification rules (allowing for slight tweaking) might actually be fantastic for the Pro 12 and therefore Irish rugby. Arrangements would have to be made to ease the financial burden for the Italians and Scots but I don’t see that as insurmountable.

  6. zdm

     /  May 31, 2012

    What about:

    heiny winners and amlin winners (or their next representative from their LEAGUE plus the
    top 6 from the 3 european leagues to qualify automatically each season.

    This year that would give the following list of 18 teams to qualify automatically:
    Heiny/Amlin: Leinster, Biarritz
    Pro-12: Ospreys, Munster, Glasgow, Scarlets, Ulster, Cardiff
    Guinness Prem: Quins, Leicester, Sarries, Northampton, Exeter, Sale
    Top 14: Toulouse, Clermont, Toulon, Castres, Montpellier, Racing Metro

    That leaves 4 places which I propose would be decided thus:
    7th and 8th placed teams from the 3 leagues plus the losing finalists from both the heiny and the amlin (or their next placed LEAGUE representative and NOT national representative). These teams to be drawn to play a home and away leg against each other after the regular season has finished.

    This would mean 4 from this list would take the remaining places:
    Heiny/Amlin Finalists: Connacht , Stade Francais
    Next placed pro 12: Dragons, Trevisio
    Next Guinness: London Irish, Bath
    Next Top 14: Bordeaux, Agen

    This would reward sucess in the European tournaments AND national leagues (particularly the pro-12), spice up the end of seasons for mid-table teams and is the most merit based system.

    While this system would still POTENTIALLY allow 10 Pro-12 teams to qualify, it would POTENTIALLY allow 10 top-14 and 8 Guinness Prem teams to qualify and, most importantly, there would be no rubber stamped places for teams who throw the league away to concentrate on Europe.

  7. HenryFitz

     /  June 1, 2012

    Why make any concessions at all? Two unions are already guaranteed half of the HC spots, whilst the remaining four are guaranteed 10. With a base ratio of 12:10, it doesn’t make sense for the smaller unions to cede more qualifying spots. Also, any concessions made will take a generation to undo, at least, and may never be undone. The Entente’s raggle-taggle band of profiteers and playboys have shown no interest in the good of the game in general and it must be assumed that they will show no interest in the future. If expansion occurs, you can bet that it will be at the expense of the smaller unions, whose number of slots will be further reduced.

    This is not a time for allowing that the Entente have some reasonable arguments. Their arguments are not arguments. They are excuses and justifications for increases in power and representation, increases which are neither deserved nor fair.

    • paddy o

       /  June 1, 2012

      Bang on good sir. The profiteers and playboys don’t speak of Georgia or Romania. All it takes for evil to prosper is for good men to say nothing. Is this sporting interests or $porting intere$t$?

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