Top England clubs may withdraw from negotiations in Dublin next week to resolve the structure of the European Cup after being excluded from a meeting of key European stakeholders in Paris.
Premiership Rugby is mulling over postponing talks until after the November internationals to provide a ‘cooling-off period’ following the meeting, which was attended by representatives from all six unions including Rugby Football Union chief Ian Ritchie and professional rugby director Rob Andrew, as well as the French clubs.
Two proposals were reportedly put to the French clubs - an enlarged tournament of 32 clubs, comprising 10 English clubs, 10 Pro12 team and 12 Top 14 teams with the Challenge Cup being scrapped, or, retaining the status quo of the European Cup but reducing the Challenge Cup to 16 teams.
Both proposals were rejected.
English clubs feel the Paris snub was intended to sour their relationship with French clubs, who all want the European Cup to be reduced to 20 clubs consisting of the top six sides from each league along with last season's champions and Challenge Cup winners.