Who cares about the Challenge Cup – Not the French!

One of the stated goals of the new European rugby tournaments was an increase in how competitive the new competitions would be. If that has been achieved in the Champions Cup the same cannot be said of its baby sister, the Challenge Cup.

While 25,600 were watching a full-blooded Munster v Clermont affair in Round 3, a paltry 4,000 went to see Brive (who average over 12,000 in the Top 14) take on Oyonnax.

To be fair to EPCR, not all blame can be laid at their door. The Amlin Challenge Cup, its previous incarnation, was never particularly loved by supporters. But crucially, there was at least the carrot of a place in the Heineken Cup for the winner. With that carrot taken away in favour of an end-of-season play-off system that merely adds another two weeks of competitive rugby to an already cluttered calendar, what reason does any club really have to prioritise the Challenge Cup over its domestic league?

If there is any hope of the Challenge Cup being a worthwhile tournament, it must hold qualification for its big brother, the Champions Cup. Without it, this season it has become less competitive, not more. Until that happens it will remain a damp squib of a tournament, unloved by fans, media, and to be brutally honest, clubs alike.

Mike Miles

http://www.scrumdown.org.uk

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The Perils of a fourth international

I was getting mighty excited at the third and fourth rounds of the European Cup. ….the back-to-back clashes between Munster and Clermont, Leicester and Toulon ..I could go on.

But the folly of both England and Wales sticking in a fourth international to the November window was reflected in the playing staff of those clubs who received players with seven shades knocked out of them.

This seems a clear disadvantage to English and Welsh teams, and one foisted upon them by greedy Unions.

Mike Miles

http://www.scrumdown.org.uk

Irish in Frame for 2023 Rugby World Cup?

Couldn’t get tickets for next year’s world Cup?

The 2019 Tournament will be held in Japan, so that could prove a bit expensive

Fear not, for bids will shortly be invited for potential hosts for the 2013 tournament.South Africa, who pitched for 2015 and 2019 are likely to be bidding.Argentina and Italy may also throw their hat into the ring.

Rumour has it Ireland may be making a bid.If so, it is likely to be a sole union one,playing matches in Northern Ireland as well as the Republic,and using GAA stadia such as Croke Park.

A final decision is unlikely to be made until 2017

No word on Qatar putting a bid in though…..

Mike Miles

http://www.scrumdown.org.uk