English rugby handicapped - London Irish coach Booth

Toby Booth
Booth's side lost to Cardiff Blues at the weekend

London Irish coach Toby Booth says English clubs are not on a level playing field in the Heineken Cup.

Booth has echoed Leicester boss Richard Cockerill's comments that financial constraints for Premiership clubs makes it hard to match foreign teams.

"It is tough for English clubs because of the constraints we have to work under," Booth told BBC Radio Berkshire.

"What that means is that you have your best players fit and healthy for the Heineken Cup."

The Exiles went out of the cup in the group stages after being beaten by Cardiff Blues at the weekend.

Booth admits their European campaign has been disappointing.

"It is very disappointing, but we knew the levels of margins in this competition was going to be very tight because of the calibre of the teams in it," said Booth.

"We have to learn from this because there is a lot of inexperience in our squad and a lot of young players in our group now and we will be better for the experience.

"But we will not shy away from the fact that we have been disappointing, especially at home. There are no short cuts in this competition and the experience of playing in it makes you better in years to come."

Booth believes that English rugby's salary cap, and the physical nature of the Premiership make in difficult to compete with the might of the French clubs.

"We have to fight on three fronts and make no bones about it, squad size and calibre of your squad makes a difference in this competition," he added.

"But, the attritional nature of the Premiership which everyone champions means that is very unlikely to happen. That is the medium we work under and I don't think it is very positive from an English point of view."

Booth believes that the salary cap in English rugby is hindering Premiership clubs in Europe, but hopes the changes to the rule next season will help.

Premiership clubs will be allowed make one marquee signing, outside of the salary cap, as of the 2012-13 season.

"Ultimately it is not easy and maybe with the introduction of a marquee player and the introduction of bit more flexibility for salary caps at clubs that can afford it might make a difference," he added.

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