No support for English rugby’s breakaway cup

ENGLAND’S Rugby Football Union are adamant they will not be forced into a U-turn on plans to form a breakaway European competition next season, despite unions in Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France and Italy indicating their clubs were set to continue playing in the Heineken Cup.

Top French and Welsh clubs had previously indicated their intention to join English teams in a new Rugby Champions Cup, following a row over the qualification criteria and distribution of revenue for the existing competition.

However, in a meeting in Dublin yesterday, which the RFU were not invited to attend, it was agreed the five unions still wished to participate in a competition governed by European Rugby Cup, saying in a statement “a 20-team European club competition” would take place next season regardless of the number of countries involved.

Yet plans for the breakaway competition could still go ahead.

“It may well be there are two European tournaments next season,” said Premiership chief executive Mark McCafferty. “The problem in all this is that the unions see it as a power struggle.”