The second Heineken Cup season kicked off in October 2006, but the first with the English clubs in tow. ITV, who were to have covered the competition, pulled the plug on its coverage,fed up with the wrangling between the organizers. The European clubs wanted to forge separate TV deals , and formed an umbrella group, the European Rugby Federation.
But BSky B did a deal with the ERC for the Heineken Cup instead,and any hopes the clubs had for a Super League,with rights negotiated through the clubs themselves and not the unions, were strangled at birth. And so television played a leading role in forcing the English clubs to come back to the negotiating table.
So as we wait for final signs that there will be a successor to the Heineken Cup next season,and with a deal seemingly dependent on the TV companies coming to an agreement, we should remember that we have been here before.