JERSEY Reds have not applied to take part in next season’s European Challenge Cup, the club chairman has said, despite suggestions that the side could fill the void left by the demise of Worcester and Wasps.
Mark Morgan strongly denied suggestions that the Islanders were seeking entry into European club rugby’s second-tier competition and cited the ‘prohibitive’ travel costs associated and minimum stadium requirements that the club could not currently meet.
English sides would ordinarily provide eight teams to the Champions Cup and a further five to the Challenge Cup. However, with only ten teams due to compete in next season’s Premiership, and London Irish also facing potential expulsion owing to financial difficulties, speculation has been circulating that the English spots could pass down the top three sides from the Championship – the Reds, Ealing Trailfinders and Coventry.
Well-documented Premiership minimum standards requirements – which from the start of the 2024/25 season include having a 10,000-capacity home ground – have meant that the Reds are unable to compete in England’s top flight next season despite their historic Championship-title-winning campaign.
National media reports stated that the three Championship clubs had written to European Professional Club Rugby, organisers of both the Champions and Challenge Cups, to seek approval to take part in the 2023/24 campaign.
Dashing hopes of hosting some of the giants of European rugby at the Stade Santander International Stadium, Morgan said: ‘Jersey Reds have not applied.
‘The cost of travel would be prohibitive unless there was significant funding attached to participation.
‘There are also minimum ground standards to be met which we would not meet at this time.’
Morgan added that any participation in European rugby could also have an impact on the 2023/24 Championship league season.
‘There are three issues here,’ he said. ‘One is the money, two is the minimum ground standards and the third is how does it fit within our own fixture list?
‘It is all very well us saying “we’ll play” but we are already committed to the Championship for next season and the Championship is not built around the European schedule.
‘It would be romantic [for the Reds to play in Europe] but it is not practical.’