Octavian Morariu, who will seek a third term as President of Rugby Europe at the election scheduled for December 4, has rebutted the charge levelled by his Russian rival, Kirill Yashenkov, that the continental game outside Six Nations unions has "stagnated."
Yashenkov, deputy chairman of the Russian Rugby Federation, said earlier this month that the continent "needs big change urgently and I have full confidence that I am the person that can bring this organisation to the next level," adding that he planned to double the Rugby Europe budget within two years and set up a new club competition.
"For those who follow more closely the Rugby Europe affairs," Morariu told insidethegames, "it is already known - as the Russian Union already knows too - that the launch of a Rugby Europe club competition and the necessary investment has already been voted by Rugby Europe Board in March 2020 and that this competition will launch for the 2021-2022 season.
"Also, agreements have been signed with media and commercial partners - River Media and Wasserman.
"A meeting with the union members concerned in the competition is currently taking place as I address your questions.
"I must add that Rugby Europe has already tripled its commercial income in the past 18 months and is already on a significant growth trajectory."
Regarding Yashenkov’s additional comments about declaring Russia as a rugby power and getting the level of the Rugby Europe Championship closer to that of the Six Nations tournament, Morariu – a former Romania and Barbarians player who is now also chair of the International Olympic Committee’s Future Host Cities Commission for the Winter Games added: "We are already doing it.
"I think there is somewhere a fundamental misunderstanding of what Rugby Europe and its governance structure and Presidential role is.
"The role of the President is to work for the benefits of all members.
"The ambition of Russia to emerge as a rugby power is completely legitimate and something we obviously encourage.
"But - it must be done by respecting the rules and values of our sport and not come at the detriment of other members."
Read the full interview with Octavian Morariu here