The 2009/10 ERC Club's Conference closed in Paris today with ERC Chief Executive Derek McGrath hailing the two-day meeting a huge success.
Coaches and directors of rugby from the 44 clubs involved in the forthcoming Heineken Cup and European Challenge Cup tournaments - which kick-off in early October - leading match officials and legal experts attending the gathering that had refereeing and discipline as the main thrusts.
Day two concentrated on discipline with key note addresses from Professor Lorne Crerar and HHJ Jeff Blackett regarding the role of the citing commissioner and the overall judicial process.
"This was an extremely valuable opportunity to get the clubs together and as the tournaments develop the level of interest means the bar has to be raised year after year," said Mr McGrath.
"For the clubs it was the opportunity to be part of that process and raise any burning issues and the commitment and attendance of the delegates represented a big step forward."
The main thrust of the opening day of the conference, held in the city that will be hosting the 15th Heineken Cup final in May was consistency of refereeing across the board of European club rugby's leading tournaments.. ERC's new Match Official Performance Manager, Donal Courtney, led the delegates through the law changes and their interpretations, along with the surviving ELVs that will be in force this season.
"What we want to achieve is a level of consistency of refereeing across both competitions," said Mr Courtney.
"To that end all the referees and coaches involved in both the Heineken Cup and European Challenge Cup were invited to this conference and we have had a tremendous representation from them.
"Last year we had a smaller conference for fewer coaches and referees but this one is all-embracing for those in both our tournaments.
"And while the main theme has been trying to achieve that consistency of refereeing and communication in each game, across matches and between different referees, we are also taking the opportunity to discuss and debate key areas such as the tackle, ruck, scrum and maul."
As part of the build-up to next month's Cardiff 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals weekend, ERC has joined forces with the WRU, Cardiff Blues and adidas to develop an annual grassroots community rugby programme targeting young players.
The Ulster Rugby full back, Jared Payne (No 15), has been suspended for two (2) weeks following an independent Disciplinary Hearing in Dublin arising from the Heineken Cup quarter-final match against Saracens at Ravenhill Stadium on Saturday, 5 April.