Tom Bradshaw: Expect Bruce to have view on Euro
Readers of this column won't need to be told that Bath Rugby are not in the Heineken Cup this season.
But the question in rugby circles this week is not about which teams will qualify to play in Europe's premier competition in forthcoming seasons but whether there will be a Heineken Cup at all.
The Northern Hemisphere's greatest club competition serves up an annual feast of rugby where the likes of Leinster can be seen going toe-to-toe with Toulouse. It is mouth-watering stuff.
As Bath winger Tom Biggs put it to me a couple of years ago, it's rugby union's answer to the drama and commotion of the Champions League.
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So the power struggle currently being played out between Premiership Rugby and the organisers of the Heineken Cup has caught the media's attention over the past week.
But should it really have caught that many by surprise? A storm has been brewing for several months, ever since English and French clubs served notice to European Rugby Cup Ltd (ERC) that they were unhappy with the competition's current format.
It provides an almost guaranteed qualification process for Celtic and Italian clubs but a distinctly more gruelling route for English and French sides.
When Mark McCafferty, chief executive of Premiership Rugby Ltd, announced last week that the umbrella group representing the top flight of English rugby had agreed a TV deal with BT Vision – a contract which included coverage of English clubs' European matches – all hell broke loose, with ERC contending that a deal had already been struck with Sky.
Claim and counter-claim were made. From some quarters of the media, not all of what was said was particularly edifying.
The gloves came off, vested interests were being protected and the toxic mix of sport, money and politics were being blended into a potent brew.
A collective deep breath appears to have been taken on Tuesday, with the various stakeholders in ERC managing to all sit in the same Dublin room together and hold talks. Further round- table discussions will take place in Rome next month.
Bath fans can expect the club's chairman, Bruce Craig, to be taking a hands-on approach to all this. He writes entertaining and thought-provoking programme notes, combining honesty, original thinking and an evident passion to see the game prosper.
On several occasions last season, Craig penned some interesting words on how he would like to see the professional game evolve over forthcoming seasons. It is fair to assume he will not be a shrinking violet during the current talks.
One can expect the events of the past fortnight to have sharpened Craig's thinking further – we should await his programme notes for Bath's home match with Sale on September 29 with interest.