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'Degree of sadness': Exit statement from EPCR chairman Halliday

By Sam Smith
(Photo by Juan Gasperini/MI News/NurPhoto)

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Ex-England winger Simon Halliday has issued a statement after he stepped down as EPCR chairman following the completion of two terms of office. The 1991 World Cup finalists became the figurehead of the European tournaments when EPCR was set up to replace the old ERC organisation following reform pressure from the English and French clubs.  

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Halliday now signs off with the future of the Champions and Challenge Cups secure following a new eight-year agreement among the various EPCR stakeholders and a recruitment process is underway to appoint a new chairman and a CEO following the exit of Vincent Gaillard.

EPCR have confirmed that Anthony Lepage, who has been administration and finance director since 2014, has been appointed CEO on an interim basis with the recruitment process for long-term appointments underway. In the meantime, Halliday has issued his EPCR farewell via a Wednesday morning statement that read: 

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“My term as chairman of EPCR has naturally come to an end after nearly six-and-a-half years and I admit to a degree of sadness, but also excitement. As I depart the scene of the best club rugby tournaments in the world, I know that it will become even better over the next number of years.

“EPCR has signed a new eight-year agreement which I believe is a triumph of negotiation and shared objectives between the leagues and unions of Europe. This will guarantee the long-term future of both the Heineken Champions Cup and the EPCR Challenge Cup. At the same time, this will create clarity for the international and club calendar. 

“The players and all rugby fans will be delighted as for them, the European tournaments have become a vital piece of their season’s ambitions. I wish to congratulate all our stakeholders for their steadfast commitment to achieve lasting change in the business of EPCR and to lay out a platform for the continued success of the tournaments. This was against the background of a pandemic that has threatened the very future of our game. 

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“From this new agreement, we are now working on the participation of the South African provinces and building towards a Club World Cup every four years which would replace the latter stages of the Heineken Champions Cup. Together with our improved formats, reduced pool matches and more knockout rugby, EPCR is in a great position to grow. Our newly formed board is superbly well-equipped and structured to deliver on this growth and I wish them every success.

“I pay tribute to the EPCR team for their exceptional efforts in producing a string of outstanding competitions and especially our finals weekends which have gone from strength to strength over the last six years, despite the inevitable restrictions. Also to acknowledge their commitment throughout the times of Covid-19 and their professionalism to keep our tournaments running. They do much of the hidden work and now, with the combined resources of our three leagues, the outlook is incredibly exciting.

“In summary, I cannot think of a better time to be involved in EPCR. I thank all our business and commercial partners for their tremendous support and I know that the best is yet to come!

“Lastly, I thank with all my heart the clubs, provinces and unions who have made me so welcome at their stadiums over the last six-and-a-half years. It has been a special time and I have made many valued friends. For me, rugby has always been a great passion and I’m sure that I will not be far from grounds in the coming years and hope to see many of you in the future.

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“To all at EPCR, I say good luck, bonne chance and buona fortuna. It has been a real privilege. To the rugby world at large, be excited at the way European club rugby is developing and please show your support because there are thrilling times ahead.”

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