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BT: European rugby remains priority

Broadcasting European rugby's premier club competition remains a main priority for BT, whether in one or two years' time.

The telecoms giant reconfirmed its commitment to its rugby coverage through satellite service BT Sport, in the wake of the latest developments in the Heineken Cup saga.

French rugby clubs voted unanimously to commit to the Heineken Cup for next season, after a new competition format was announced by tournament organisers ERC.

The Ligue National de Rugby (LNR) performed a U-turn on Thursday, after previously agreeing to join the English clubs' breakaway Champions Cup tournament for next season.

Bosses at the LNR gave the Heineken Cup and ERC a one-year stay of execution, as they seek to establish a new tournament-organising body for 2015/16.

All this leaves the English club body Premiership Rugby scrambling to qualify the latest position.

Should an ERC-run continent-wide tournament go ahead next season, then under the existing agreements BT may be unable to claim the screening rights, due to Sky's claims to the broadcasts.

BT Sport bosses remain unfazed by the latest go-round of politicking however, confirming they will continue to chase the rights to European rugby in the long-run.

"BT Sport is going from strength to strength with rugby at the heart of our programming," a company spokesman said.

"The politics within the sport are not our business, but we note the commitment from the French to a new competition in 2015/16 and the participation of the English clubs."

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