15 Sep 2013

Future uncertain for European club rugby

1:26 pm on 15 September 2013

European Rugby Cup chiefs have called for an end to the public war-of-words over the battle to shape the future of rugby union's European Cup.

England's Premiership clubs on Tuesday revealed plans for an Anglo-French breakaway competition when the agreement governing the running of both the European Cup and the second-tier European Challenge Cup expires at the end of the current northern hemisphere season.

Clubs from both the Premiership and France's Top 14 are unhappy with the existing set-up which sees nearly all leading sides from Scotland, Ireland, Wales and Italy guaranteed European Cup places on grounds of nationality rather than on their positions in the domestic Celtic League.

However, the Premiership's plan did extend an invitation to teams from beyond England and France to join their proposed new event.

The Premiership and the Ligue National de Rugby, their French equivalent, are also unhappy at the way European Cup revenues are divided, with the Premiership and tournament organisers involved in a row over the ownership of broadcast rights.

On Wednesday, European Rugby Cup chiefs issued a statement insisting that all parties had "reaffirmed their commitment" to the negotiation process and agreed that "European club competitions must be organised by European Rugby Cup chiefs".

That latter claim has since been disputed by the Toulouse president Rene Bouscatel and Leicester Tigers chairman Peter Wheeler, but European Rugby Cup chiefs remain adamant that such an agreement was reached in Dublin.