Belfast Telegraph

Monday 24 November 2014

IRB wades into European Cup debate

Premiership Rugby will step up plans to create a new European competition - despite the International Rugby Board declaring they would oppose a format composed exclusively of Anglo-French clubs.

English and French clubs are seeking structural, qualification and financial changes to the Heineken Cup and have refused to work under tournament organisers European Rugby Cup once the current agreement expires at the end of the season.

Should Irish, Welsh, Scottish and Italian sides decline their invitation to join their tournament, teams from the Aviva Premiership and Top 14 will play each other.

Ultimate approval would be required from the IRB's council, however, and chief executive of the global game's governing body Brett Gosper has indicated that would not be forthcoming.

"We don't think it's in the interests of the game a competition such as that, no," Gosper said.

"We don't believe in an Anglo-French competition in itself. We strongly believe it should be a European competition and that's what we would be supporting and throwing our weight behind.

"A full European competition is the right thing for the game of rugby in terms of development, growth and so on. That's how we see it.

"We urge all of those parties to get together and find some common ground because we believe it's in the interests of the game to do so."

However, following a scheduled meeting of Premiership Rugby shareholders, England's clubs have reaffirmed that they want "immediate action" to put in place a new European competition for next season.

They are exasperated by what they view as a lack of progress by ERC over establishing a new accord - the next meeting is not scheduled until October 23.

"The clubs see no purpose in new discussions starting as late as the end of October 2013, as proposed earlier this week," read a statement issued by Premiership Rugby.

"The proposals from the French and English clubs for two new, strong competitions of 20 teams in each were tabled more than a year ago."

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