England's top rugby clubs have confirmed to City A.M. that they are considering an extraordinary request from French side Toulon to switch leagues and join them in the Premiership.
League representatives received a letter on Wednesday afternoon from Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal enquiring about the possibility of him moving his star-studded team out of the French Top 14 and into the English top flight.
The surprise suggestion is currently being considered carefully by the Premiership, which represents England's leading teams, due to the unprecedented scenario it proposes.
A Premiership Rugby spokesperson told City A.M: "We received a letter from Toulon yesterday afternoon, it's too early to give a formal response, but we will obviously give it due consideration and respond in due course."
Toulon's interest in joining the Premiership's ranks has been welcomed by the league as a sign of its appeal.
However, senior figures at three Premiership clubs have indicated they believe it's unlikely the French team would succeed in its bid to switch leagues.
Toulon have been crowned European champions for three years running and boast a squad packed full of international stars including English flanker Steffon Armitage, two-time World Cup winner Ma'a Nonu and South African winger Bryan Habana.
Yet president Boudjellal believes the Premiership offers better long-term economic prospects than the Top 14.
Boudjellal, who has spent time in England studying the practices of Premiership clubs, has told French newspaper L'Equipe he is serious about making Toulon the first French club to play in the English leagues.
"If this is not possible next year, maybe the year after. For them [the Premiership], besides a big first, it would be a huge added value. And I'm serious in my approach," said the French businessman.
"The economic future of rugby is in England rather than France, given the way the two leagues are run. The English take the right decisions."