The Italian Rugby Federation is among a growing group of people who are questioning the involvement of English teams in European Champions Cup Rugby. After a dire weekend for Aviva Premiership sides (which included seven losses against French, Irish and even Welsh opposition), their place in the competition has come under serious scrutiny.
“Issa not good,” said Leonardo di Grubba, Head of European Rugby in Italy. “We have English teams in the Cup for many years. They nice; I like these sides very much. But thisa weekend they were, how do you say, shit. They play lotsa matches but they win not one. Thisa not clever. If I was these people, I would not be a happy.”
And trouble could be on the horizon for England’s top fight. There is a meeting at European Rugby HQ in Switzerland this week and it is thought that one of the things up for discussion will be whether or not, next year, fewer English Clubs will be allowed into the continent’s premier rugby competition.
“I can’t discuss what will be on the agenda,” said an unnamed spokesman, speaking to us on the phone after we called and asked to speak to someone who might know what was going on. “But I can say results this weekend won’t have strengthened their position. We have South African teams dying to be part of Europe. And if we’re honest, I think any one could have done better than Saracens on Monday night.”
The Welsh were the next people we spoke to. They phoned us as soon as they heard we were wanting to write an article on how bad English sides were.
“We sent our absolute worst team to Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday,” said Ivor Rarebit of the Neath, Swansea and Other Places Inbetween Supporters Club. “The Ospreys couldn’t knock snow off a rope at the moment, and yet, there they were, against Northampton, waltzing through unchallenged like Harvey Weinstein in the mid-90s. It was embarrassing. I think we might have to put out an U21 side next week.”
The French were also happy to weigh in, having had two of their sides put just shy of a combined 100 points on their respective English opponents. “I ‘ave spoken wis my English counterparts,” said Henri Penaltie-Traille, the secretary of the online facebook user group ‘Rugby Francais dans la Europe’, in between long drags on a cigarette. “Some of zem say ‘What about Sale and Newcastle in ze Challenge Cup?’ But we all know no-one gives a fuck about ze Challenge Cup. It ‘appens on a Thursday. Name one good sing zat appens on a Thursday? Zee. Nah-sing. I can tell you, we laugh a lot at English clubs in ze Champions Cup; zey are like David Davis in Brexit: fucking useless.”