INFO RMC SPORT. The meeting of the Presidents of the Top 14 and Pro D2 clubs was very lively on Wednesday. Several of them call for a freeze or a reduction in relegations and a modification of the competition formats for next season, with why not the establishment of a Top 15 and a second division with 18 formations. We should know more Tuesday during the steering committee of the NRL.
They occupied our evenings of the first confinement almost every week. It was a little over a year ago and the meetings of the presidents of Top 14 and Pro D2, often endless, regularly animated the news of French rugby. That of last Wednesday will have been in the tradition of the previous ones. Long and loud. Because the tension has risen a notch in recent weeks after the multiplication of postponements. Four last weekend, as many this weekend, and now five weeks from the end of the regular season. While there is more and more talk of a possible equalization system if the matches could not be played, club presidents are necessarily worried. And many of them question “fairness” for weeks to come.
“The meeting last Wednesday was very tense, according to an interlocutor. At one point, it turned into a cacophony. The problem is that René Bouscatel had only to say, “it’s all over”. But by not speaking, he opens Pandora’s box. A feeling shared by other personalities present. “It was fireworks, according to one of them. René Bouscatel is weaker than Paul Goze to hold a meeting … “The new president of the National Rugby League may not have expected such agitation. Others, however, point to “electoral promises” that Goze’s successor would pay today.
The play-off between the last of the Top 14 and the finalist of Pro D2?
According to information from RMC Sport, several club bosses, whether in Top 14 or Pro D2, have expressed their anger and their desire to freeze relegations in these two divisions. Why ? “Because the season is no longer fair because of the Covid”, we are told. Montpellier, Bayonne and Pau, respectively 11th, 12th and 13th, would be in favor. Under these conditions, thirteenth place would then no longer be subject to a play-off against the unfortunate finalist of the Pro D2. This meeting of death would return to the 14th, namely Agen who has not won a single meeting this season. All the clubs of the elite could then be maintained and the champion of the second division would complete the elite which would then increase to 15 formations. Then finished the Top 14, place in the Top 15 for a season! But that’s not all.
Because in Pro D2, too, several presidents including that of Angoulême, are also campaigning to suppress the descents in order to go from 16 to 18 clubs in the name again of sporting but also financial equity as well as the principle of solidarity. “A president took in particular a PGE (loan guaranteed by the State) and a personal loan for his club to survive. In the event of a descent, it is the bankruptcy, there is no more club and it is a personal bankruptcy, ”we were told. But is changing the rules at this point in the season both possible and fair? In any case, it was not at all planned. According to our information, the presidents of the Pro D2 clubs had agreed at the start of the championship not to change the formula if the season went at least until the 24th day.
A highly anticipated steering committee on Tuesday
“It’s too late for next season, firmly replies a source familiar with the matter. We cannot change the rules two days before the end of the regular phase! Ok, we need solidarity with each other, of course there is the pandemic, but we cannot go into that now. In addition, the Top 14 and the Pro D2 at sixteen were voted during the first steering committee of the René Bouscatel era. Everyone knows that. So I think nothing will change… ”The debate is however undoubtedly far from over. Because while some are in favor of this relegation freeze, others are much more skeptical. Not to say frankly opposed.
Financially, that poses a lot of questions. “Already, that would divide even more the TV rights, we recall, but beyond the financial problem, we do not have the possibility of adding four more dates in the calendar! There, this championship found its rhythm with four games in a row and a weekend of rest. If we add clubs and therefore matches, what do we do? Should more players be in the workforce? So many questions for the moment unanswered. Tuesday’s steering committee, scheduled from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., promises to be lively and decisive here too. And a strong man to launch: “We vote and it’s over …”