Gloucester Rugby: Davies unfazed by Heineken Cup wrangles
THE Heineken Cup's uncertain future must not colour Gloucester's season, believes rugby director Nigel Davies.
Television deal wrangles still sit at the centre of the row that threatens an end to Europe's top club cup competition.
English and French clubs submitted notice they would leave European Rugby Cup Limited some 15 months ago now.
That two-year warning expires at the end of the coming season – along with the signed agreements about tournament participation and composition.
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If no new deal is agreed during the campaign, Europe's showpiece tournament will be plunged into jeopardy.
Despite frequent summits between all relevant bodies, including Pro12 club envoys, the Heineken Cup argument remains at an impasse.
More battle of will than wit, this year's tournament will start with the competition in limbo.
Generally the top six Premiership teams qualify for the Heineken Cup – as things stand it is unclear whether final league position will hold any European bearing.
Davies remains unfazed by the political flux, insisting his squad must ignore the situation.
The Kingsholm men will start their 15-a-side pre-season schedule by taking on reigning Heineken Cup champions Toulon at Stade Mayol on Friday night (kick-off 7.30pm BST).
A glamour tie against Europe's proven best of the best neatly underlines the importance of a swift Heineken Cup resolution.
But Davies said his Gloucester charges will approach the new campaign undeterred by continued off-field twists and turns.
"It's not something we can concern ourselves with, as either coaches or players," he said.
"It doesn't really affect us, because whatever happens, our challenges for the season ahead do not change.
"We'll be fighting on two very demanding fronts, and the aim is to be as successful as possible in both competitions.
"That aim does not revolve around what will happen after this season.
"I'm not privy to the ins and outs of the situation, but I would expect everything to come to a resolution eventually.
"Everyone involved wants a top-calibre European competition, and everyone involved understands the value and importance of the Heineken Cup.
"Certainly as players and coaches at Gloucester, we think it's a fantastic competition, and we are extremely excited about being involved – though we are also acutely aware of the magnitude of the challenge it poses.
"When you have a product like that it is the kind of thing people will work hard to protect.
"While the situation beyond the end of this season remains uncertain, that is no issue for us in the Gloucester squad and management.
"We treat the scenario the same as every other year, where we will strive to be successful in Europe, and aim for as high a Premiership finish as possible."