Exclusive: Rugby’s Euro dispute sad, says Roberts

Frank Dalleres
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WALES and Lions star Jamie Roberts has called the bitter row threatening the future of European club rugby “sad” and lamented the lack of opportunity for players to help solve the impasse.

It is still unclear whether the Heineken Cup will go ahead next season and, if so, whether English teams will be part of it, having proposed a breakaway competition led by them and leading French sides. A compromise could yet see it extended until 2015 but serious questions remain over who would run future competitions, increasing fears of a split that might isolate some nations.

Roberts, who joined Paris-based Racing Metro in June, told City A.M. he was surprised how long the protracted row had lasted, adding: “Ultimately, in the hierarchy, it’s about power and money and it’s sad to see. Rugby is a game that bases itself on good morals and teamwork, and it’s sad to see from a player’s perspective that European competition is under threat.

“I suppose the people who haven’t got a say in this is the players. That’s disappointing in itself. There is nothing like playing in the Heineken Cup and any player will tell you. The unions and clubs have to make a decision and hopefully it’s for the good of the game.”

Roberts, 27, hopes to return from two and a half months out following ankle surgery on Saturday when Racing Metro host Harlequins in the Heineken Cup. He could be joined in the side by Wales team-mate Mike Phillips, who Racing president Jacky Lorenzetti yesterday confirmed was poised to sign. Phillips was sacked by Bayonne in October for alleged misconduct, which he denies, but Roberts says he can flourish in the capital.

“I think he’ll thrive at this club,” he added. “Mike’s a great guy. Yes, he’s had his troubles in the past at various clubs but he needs to look at this opportunity as a chance to put that all behind him. He’s more than capable of being a magnificent signing for us.”

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