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ERC dismiss breakaway threat

Mon, 23 Sep 2013 19:27
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New tournament requires FFR and RFU approval
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European Rugby Cup Chairman Jean-Pierre Lux is adamant that proposed plans for a new breakaway tournament to challenge the European Cup next season will not come to light.

The existing tournament agreement expires next year and leading English and French clubs at the weekend announced plans for a new tournament called the Rugby Champions Cup.

Premiership Rugby and its French counterparts from the LNR - which oversees France's elite Top 14 league - are embroiled in an increasingly bitter row with the ERC over the European Cup's future.

Premiership Rugby Chief Executive Mark McCafferty has said that he expects Celtic and Italian teams to join them.

However, Lux said his organization will not support such a venture and that any Anglo-French breakaway tournament requires FFR and Rugby Football Union approval since they are the sport's respective governing bodies.

"The FFR has now officially reminded the LNR that no international game involving French clubs can take place without the advance permission of the FFR. And the RFU has a similar position regarding Premiership Rugby," Lux said Monday at the launch of this season's European Cup and European Challenge Cup tournaments.

"I hope we will be able to reach an agreement," Lux added. "It would be disastrous to deprive so many players and fans of the opportunity of participating in such an outstanding tournament."

Premiership Rugby and LNR currently are at loggerheads with the ERC over financial, qualification and competition structure changes that they want to the existing two European tournaments.

The FFR has thrown its backing behind the ERC - seemingly ensuring at least that no French clubs would get to play in the new breakaway tournament.

"No meeting or international competition involving French clubs can be organized outside the framework of the FFR and without its prior agreement," the FFR said in a statement.

"The FFR has always been and will remain a major player in the European cups organized by ERC and backs proposals to permit the continuity and development of these."

Canadian lawyer Graeme Mew has been asked by the ERC to act a mediator in the dispute. The next round of negotiations is set for October 23, although it is not clear at this stage who will take part.

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