Access exclusive podcasts, interviews and analysis with a monthly or annual membership

Become A Member
Dublin: 5°C Friday 5 March 2021

'Someone's going to have to suck eggs': Paul Warwick on Heineken Cup stand-off

The Australian believes any elite European competition would be pointless without the likes of Munster and Leinster.

Marcus Horan and Paul Warwick pose with the Heineken Cup in 2008.
Marcus Horan and Paul Warwick pose with the Heineken Cup in 2008.
Image: INPHO/Billy Stickland

THE CURRENT SQUABBLE over the future of European rugby is likely to drag on into October, when 24 sides begin their Heineken Cup campaigns.

Power-brokers representing the English and French teams fired an booming shot across the bows when they suggested a break away from the ERC and a separate Anglo-French, merit-based competition.

A compromise may well be reached that gives those sides a longer draught from the money trough and leads to a few more Pro12 teams competing in the Challenge Cup. Rugby supporters can expect this to drag and for many more statements to be released by every union and league under the European sun. caught up with three players that have all competed in the Heineken Cup. Paul Warwick played four seasons of the competition with Munster and won the cup in 2008. He moved on to Stade Francais in 2011 and is now with Worcester Warriors.

He said “It would definitely be a shame if the Heineken Cup was scrapped. It needs to stay together. As a player, it is one of the greatest opportunities to get. You’re playing in an elite environment and travelling to all these different countries that pose unique challenges.”

“If it splits up,” Warwick added, “I don’t think it will be for too long. You can get the top French teams and top English teams together but it just wouldn’t be the same without a Munster, Leinster or even an Ulster in it.

Not everyone is going to be happy whenever a solution is close but someone’s going to have to suck eggs eventually.”

Ian Humphreys has played for Leicester Tigers and Ulster in the Heineken Cup and will line out for London Irish in the Challenge Cup this season. As a player, Humphreys argues, he has little say in the negotiations and insists he can see both sides of the argument when it comes to the competition’s future.

However, he added, “If it wants to be a real competition, you have to have the Scottish, Welsh and Italian sides.”

imageIan Humphreys believes any future elite European competition needs a spread of teams from across the continent. INPHO/Billy Stickland

Niall Morris, who was called into the senior Irish squad on Tuesday, is targeting a Heineken Cup win with Leicester, the current Aviva Premiership champions, this season. He commented, “It’d be a great shame if the Heineken Cup, as we know it, was gone. I would like to see it resolved. It’s a competition where the best sides from Europe’s best countries go head-to-head.

“It would really disrupt the development and growth of the game in Europe if sides from some countries were excluded.”

This story to rumble on for months. While the haggling plays out, fans of the game can only hope the same high level of rugby will once again enthral us and bring the number crunchers to their senses.

Four great Irish wins in the Heineken Cup

Tuilagi’s Irish teammate calls Cameron bunny ears prank a ‘brain fart’

About the author:

Patrick McCarry

Read next: