Today’s rugby news: International prop killed in car crash and fears of big competition

These are your rugby headlines on Tuesday, May 7.

Fear of coverage of the Champions Cup

The Investec Champions Cup could disappear from regular television in Britain next season.

European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR), which organizes the tournament, has failed to strike a renewed deal with current broadcaster TNT Sports, the Times reports. The publication understands tournament bosses have few options other than TNT – formerly BT Sport – and sources are concerned that European rugby could be “left out in the cold” unless a deal is struck.

TNT currently airs the Gallagher Premiership and will also show the Autumn Nations Test series later this year after acquiring the rights from Amazon Prime. The Champions Cup final between Leinster and Toulouse will be shown there on May 25, but the current agreement with EPCR will then expire.

However, the broadcaster would like to continue broadcasting the tournament, but not at a higher price. Other broadcasters, including Viaplay – which shows the URC – have a smaller budget, while Sky Sports has cut back on their rugby coverage, with the exception of the summer tests and Lions tours, meaning other options are limited.

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The Champions Cup is financially and logistically challenging for broadcasters, especially with the addition of teams from South Africa. TNT has provided commentary from its London studios on matches held in South Africa, while high costs have prevented them from sending expert teams to some matches in France this season.

While the format will remain the same for at least next season, tournament bosses are also keen to explore the idea of ​​bringing the competition’s semi-finals to one neutral city in Europe, in a bid to create a ‘rugby festival’ . Portugal are said to have shown interest, with a bid to host the last four clashes at Benfica’s Estadio da Luz earlier this season.

Prop died in car accident

Portugal international Pierre Matheiu-Fernandes has died aged 22 after being involved in a car accident.

The tighthead prop helped his side to their first bronze medal at the Men’s U18 Rugby Europe Championship in 2019, scoring three tries during the campaign. He then became an U20 international before making his debut for the senior team in 2023. He came off the bench against Belgium in the Rugby Europe Championship to win his first cap.

Tragically, that would also be his last international appearance as he died in an accident this weekend, reportedly in Saint-Clair-du-Rhone, near Lyon. Despite playing internationally for Portugal, he was born and raised in Clermont before representing Chambery and later rivals CS Vienne.

The Portuguese Rugby Union released a short statement on their website on Saturday: “It is with great regret that FPR announces the death of Portuguese international Pierre Fernandes, following a road accident.

The 22-year-old prop, who currently plays for Vienne Rugby, was also an international under-20 player for Portugal and finished second in Europe in 2021. FPR extends its most sincere condolences to Pierre’s entire family and thanks them for their contribution to the sport.”

CS Vienne also issued a statement, saying: “It is with great sadness and emotion that we must inform you of the tragic death of one of our players, Pierre-Mathieu Fernandes, as a result of a car accident. He was only twenty-two.

“He played as a tighthead prop for our CS Vienne and was known to the Prime Minister. Born and raised in Clermont, he also played for Chambéry. Our thoughts are now with his family, friends and community, as well as his teammates and club staff , as we receive this news with shock.”

RFU is being shaken up about the future of the championship

The future of English second-tier club Cornish Pirates could be in jeopardy after they confirmed they had only issued contracts until the end of the current season.

Three English Premiership clubs – London Irish, Wasps and Worcester Warriors – went to the wall last season, while last year’s championship winners, Jersey Reds, went to the wall earlier this season. The Rugby Football Union has made continued cuts to funding for the Championship, while promotion to the Premiership has been suspended since the 2020/21 season.

Cornish Pirates shareholder Dicky Evans said in a statement that contracts have only been issued for the 2024-2025 season, which include a break clause that can be activated in January 2025. Evans also revealed that there are two consortiums interested in taking over the club, but are waiting to hear what the RFU’s plans are for the Championship.

“It is understandable that new investors need confidence that the RFU supports merit-based promotion and will not carve up the rugby market in favor of a handful of Premiership clubs, locked in their ivory tower and not allowing Championship clubs through the door,” said Evans.

“Those decisions have once again been postponed. As this season draws to a close, I am determined that, despite the need to change the terms of their contracts, players and staff have the certainty that they are part of the Pirates’ future, a future .” where we remain a proud Cornish employer and a top-level elite championship club.

“One day in my life I will become a Premiership Club member. So it is up to the RFU to provide a solid foundation on which new investors in this very famous rugby club can base their financial decisions.” Championship Rugby chairman Simon Halliday also expressed concern about the situation.

“I really admire Cornish Pirates for the honesty of their statement. It reflects the deepest frustration of not only Dicky and the Cornish Pirates board, but the Championship as a whole,” Halliday told Telegraph Sport.

“This should be yet another wake-up call for the game – we’ve been saying this for months. “We don’t yet have enough answers to convince investors, both potential and current, that the deal on the table for Championship clubs is a positive outcome for the whole game.”

Curry is nearing a return after a seven-month absence

By PA Sports Staff

England back-row Tom Curry has taken a significant step forward on his return from major hip surgery and is looking “great form” in training, Sale Sharks head coach Alex Sanderson said.

The 25-year-old has not played since England’s bronze final against Argentina in last year’s Rugby World Cup, following surgery to address arthritic changes and tears in the labrum and cartilage.

But Sanderson said Curry came through his first intense training session with the rest of the Sale team this week and came out on top among his teammates on a number of counts, a hugely promising sign after months of rehabilitation.

“He came through well, he communicated and pushed the standards really well,” Sanderson said. “We don’t know how he will get through the week. This is his first training of a full week, but we will probably get a better idea of ​​how his body feels on Thursday.

“I’m amazed at how well he moves. He’s hit all the bars. I know it was just one block, but for someone who’s been out for so long, he’s come back in great shape. His ability to come back. That’s what we now wonder.

“He moves so well, he talks so passionately, he’s a phenomenal athlete and an excellent player. If his fitness is right, he’s not far away.”

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