Classic Heineken Cup clashes herald European rugby’s new dawn
Munster, Ulster and Saracens face big games in the Heineken Cup as the game looks forward to a new era
Victory is saluted, if a little wearily. There will, after all, be rugby in our time across the fields of Europe. To Ian Ritchie, chief executive of the Rugby Football Union, go the plaudits for saving the day. He massaged the militancy of his own English clubs, picked a way through French law and caprice, turned the two faces of Welsh rugby towards compromise, took Scotland’s arm around tradition and wrapped it instead around commercial reality. He had Sky and BT make love not war, and had everything translated into Italian in the nick of time.
Which leaves Ireland, the losers in all this. And what had they ever done that was so very wrong? The Irish had won too much and run too much. The citadel of European Rugby Cup, its Celtic bias making it lean towards damned Dublin, had to fall.
Rugby is heading for Switzerland – not to Dignitas, but to sup on the purifying waters that make Fifa, Uefa and the IOC such models of sporting governance. All can go only well in the promised land.
In the meantime, in advance of the waters of the Irish Sea parting before the exodus, there is one last Heineken Cup to be won…….. http://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2014/mar/29/heineken-cup-european-rugby-ulster-saracens-munster