LOOKING at the current row over the future of European rugby’s cup competitions, it’s clear there is only one loser – the everyday fan.

I can see the English and French clubs’ point of view about the perceived unfairness of their sides having to qualify for the Heineken Cup, while the Celtic sides are more or less guaranteed a place.

But the English clubs’ decision to sign a massive new television deal with BT Vision just doesn’t stack up for me.

We’ve shown in the past few months, especially with the Olympics, that this is a sports-mad country.

And with the 2015 Rugby World Cup now just around the corner, we should be ensuring the sport has maximum exposure in the lead-up to that.

I don’t see how this BT deal helps to promote the game to a wider audience.

The Heineken Cup is a fantastic competition and you can’t tell me that when Irish sides like Leinster and Munster come to town this doesn’t add great colour to the event – or please the local pub landlords.

It makes the competition what it is.

That said, I’m not really surprised at rugby’s capacity to shoot itself in the foot every couple of seasons.

It’s sure to be a special occasion at the Rec on Saturday as Bath wave farewell to Olly Barkley.

Having had two serious injuries in the last couple of years, when an opportunity like Olly has to go and play in France comes along you don’t begrudge him taking it.

He is Bath through and through, but it is a professional sport and even if you are lucky, you only get 10 years of playing.

I wouldn’t be surprised if there would have been times during his injury lay-offs where he would have thought about jacking it all in.

When a chance like this comes up, it’s right that we should wish him all the best.