English rugby clubs seek compensation millions

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 11:26 26/08/2014
Nick Evans
Getty
FIGHT BREWING: English rugby clubs, like Harlequins where former All Black Nick Evans plays, are seeking NZ$28m compensation for shutting down their competition during next year's World Cup.

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English rugby clubs are seeking NZ$28m compensation for shutting down their competition during next year's World Cup.

Otherwise they are threatening to play while the global showpiece is held.

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The clubs, under the banner of their governing body Premiership Rugby, are unhappy they weren't consulted during England's successful World Cup bid.

They are putting pressure on the Rugby Football Union to come to the party with cash to cover the two months the premiership will be on hold while the Cup plays out in September and October next year.

An agreement between the RFU and the International Rugby Board means no elite club rugby will be played during the World Cup. The sport's bosses don't want any rugby detracting from the Cup.

But the clubs believe they could be out of pocket for as much as $2.4 million each while they are stalled and believe they are being subjected to a restraint of trade situation.

The Rugby Paper in Britain suggested the RFU are willing to pay $12m compensation and look to provide more benefits for the 2016 season but that isn't winning favour with the clubs.

Leicester chief executive Simon Cohen was in a bolshie mood when he spoke to the Rugby Paper as the row brews.

"Until suitable compensation is agreed we should look to play through the World Cup," Cohen told the Rugby Paper.

"There are ongoing talks between Premiership Rugby and the RFU, but the World Cup was an agreement between the IRB and RFU to which weren't a party, so to simply expect us to close down our businesses is simply not acceptable.

"It's like going back to the bad old days of serfdom and everybody is extremely angry that this agreement was entered into with an expectation that we would shut down.

"So if there isn't going to be adequate compensation, we should play through."

Cohen has little sympathy towards the deal struck by the RFU and IRB preventing other rugby being held in England during the tournament.

"That's not our problem because both of them entered into an agreement without consulting us in any way, shape or form," added Cohen.

"Why should Leicester as a club be concerned about that? Presumably the Premiership playing through the World Cup would be a breach of the IRB regulations, but those regulations are almost certainly a restraint of trade and therefore probably unenforceable."

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