Should the Irish provinces be prepared for an era of English super club dominance?

The Guardian's rugby correspondent Robert Kitson discusses with Off The Ball

Wasps, Leinster, Jamie Heaslip

Leinster's Jamie Heaslip takes to the field to warm up ahead of defeat at Wasps ©INPHO/James Crombie

French club Toulon might have won the past three Heineken and Champions Cup trophies, but this season English clubs provide five of Europe's eight quarter-finalists.

One English team is also guaranteed to reach the final based on the draw.

Meanwhile, the exits of Munster, Leinster and Ulster from elite competition at the pool stage this season means it's the first time since 1997-98 that no Irish province has reached the knockout stage.

On the precipice of a new balance of power, we were joined by The Guardian's Robert Kitson on Off The Ball to discuss the changing face of elite rugby in Europe and he believes that it's not all down to money.

"If it was just about the money, Clermont would certainly be in the last-eight, Toulouse would certainly be in the last-eight, Bath would be in the last-eight. So it's not all about the money. I think the money helps, it buys you that little bit of extra security in the middle of a wet winter. So there's no question that it's helped, I think, make more English sides competitive," he said, adding that the salary cap next season could see further change, while he also detailed the developments being made with academies and revenue streams.

It's certainly a challenge for the Irish provinces to take on the French and English clubs toe for toe but Kitson believes it is in England and France's interest internationally to have a strong Ireland, Wales and Scotland with southern Hemisphere-dominated World Cups on the horizon every four years.