GLOUCESTER chief executive Stephen Vaughan reckons the European peace deal struck on Thursday is a major step forward for the game but insists now is not the time for gloating.
Following a bitter two-year dispute the future of cross-border competition was resolved with the heads of agreement signed for three new competitions, to be run by European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR).
The agreement was a major success for the English clubs, who had served notice that they would not continue in an ERC-run competition, and virtually all of their demands adhered to.
Vaughan said: “It’s a big relief for ourselves as a club but probably more for our supporters. It’s a highlight of the year to go overseas and see the team.
“It’s brilliant for everybody, the commercial partners, the clubs that we can get on with it now knowing fundamentally that we have the cream of Europe all in one competition in a positive fashion.
“We were looking for meritocracy, a different governance structure and a fairer distribution of revenues. I would be lying if I said we weren’t happy because all the things we wanted have come to fruition.
“It’s a really good day for the club game in England. It’s not a time for gloating.”
With the new EPCR located in Switzerland , Vaughan insists there will be no question of conflicts as may have unfairly been the case with the Dublin-based ERC.
And he believes the minimum eight-year agreement gives teams across Europe, long-term stability following years of political warfare and uncertainty.
He said: “It’s neutral in every way. One of the challenges ERC always faced, perhaps unfairly, is that being based in Dublin people could quickly point fingers to how closely aligned they were to the Pro12 or Irish clubs.
“There’s no ambiguity now, it’s in a totally neutral country with no rugby allegiance and we’re all very pleased that it’s the right outcome.
“We’ve got a long-term deal which gives stability, it was always going to be tough with a lot of moving parts but everyone has got around the table negotiated for the good of the game, just about in time, and thought more about the game than their particular interests.”
The announcement confirmed that the seventh placed Aviva Premiership team will face their counterpart from France’s Top 14 for the final place in the Rugby Champions Cup.
The exact details have not been finalised but a two-leg play-off on the weekends of May 17 and May 31 remain most likely and Vaughan admits Gloucester will be going all out for luck number seven.
“Seventh is all we’re thinking about, there’s been a lot of talk about next season but we have a lot to go for this year.