The European Rugby Cup – Striking the Right Balance for the Future of European Club Rugby Union?

A seminar as part of the Sport Business Centre Seminar Series

Chaired by: Peter Clarke

Lankester Lecture Theatre (University College London – UCL)
Medawar Building
Malet Place (off Torrington Place) 
London WC1

3rd June 2014, 6pm

For directions click here


On the 10th April this year a successor tournament to rugby union’s Heineken Cup pan-European club rugby competition was announced, the European Rugby Cup. This followed two years of intense negotiations, and often open public argument, between the key stakeholders in European rugby: the national rugby unions, the three principal leagues – the Aviva Premiership in England, the French Top 14, and the RaboDirect Pro 12 League (Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and Italy) – and their respective professional clubs. The key points of argument revolved around:

  •  Representation of clubs in the pan-European competition – the English and French clubs wanted more meritocratic representation, feeling that the other nation’s teams had an easier route into the tournament and were over-represented.
  • The sharing of broadcasting and commercial revenues from the tournament.
  • The establishment of a new competition governance structure, as the English and French had begun to question both the neutrality and effectiveness of the existing arrangements.

In this roundtable discussion the issue of how the dispute was able to escalate will be examined, and the question will be raised as to whether rugby’s existing institutional structures are being outgrown by the professional club game.  The wider politics and economics of today’s professional rugby union game will also be addressed.

Birkbeck Sport Management alumni Peter Clarke and Jon Saunders will lead the discussion and will be joined by:

  •  Hugh Godwin, rugby union correspondent at The Independent on Sunday.
  • Jeff Probyn, ex-England international and columnist at The Rugby Paper.


Hugh Godwin – has written on rugby and other sports for 25 years, including for the last six as the rugby union correspondent of the ‘Independent on Sunday’ newspaper. He has had interviews published with every major rugby player, coach and administrator of the modern era, and travelled to report on the game in Argentina, Australia, Dubai, New Zealand and South Africa. He has been a feature writer for the website and the lead columnist for ‘International Rugby News’ magazine. In 2004 he wrote the words for the book ‘England: Rugby World Champions’. In his first job, upon leaving school, he was an editor for the London sports photographic agency Colorsport, attending four Olympic Games in that capacity.

Follow Hugh on twitter @godz09 

Jeff Probyn – Geoff is a former England international (37 caps), England U21 team manager, a member of Club England, the Rugby Football Union Committee. He is a columnist for The Rugby Paper.

Peter Clarke – Peter graduated from the Birkbeck MSc Sport Management programme as a mature student in 2012. His research at Birkbeck focussed primarily on financial instability and regulation in European football. Peter has worked in financial services for over 20 years.

Jon Saunders – Jon graduated from the Birkbeck MSc Sport Management programme in 2012 and is currently furthering his academic interests by studying for a PhD at Birkbeck, researching governance and regulation of professional sports leagues. Jon is also a longstanding financial services professional and still plays rugby at Blackheath RFC.

For further details on this seminar series contact:

Sean Hamil

Department of Management
Birkbeck College
Malet Street

Tel: 020-7631 6763



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