England look to Wales as Euro crisis worsens

European competition appears set to disintegrate further with England’s clubs confident the Welsh regions will join them next season.

Premiership Rugby has nine vacant weekends to fill for the 2014-15 season after announcing on Thursday that the 12 Aviva Premiership teams would not participate in the Heineken Cup.

It is expected that the four Welsh regions will sign up to a cross-border competition with their English counterparts.

Whether that takes the shape of an enlarged Aviva Premiership is undecided with the prospect of promotion and relegation a potential sticking point for the Ospreys, Blues, Scarlets and Dragons.

The Welsh regions would also want assurances that should they withdraw from the RaboDirect PRO12 league and Heineken Cup, it would be for a long-term alternative.

The quartet are holding talks with the Welsh Rugby Union next week and are prepared to take legal action against any attempt to prevent them from joining a cross-border competition.

Should they exit the Heineken Cup, only Irish, Scottish, French and Italian teams would be left.

The prospect of linking up with South African provinces is attractive on several fronts, but the far more likely option since the Rugby Champions Cup was abandoned will involve the Welsh.

Knowing the legal hold the French Rugby Federation has over its clubs, Premiership Rugby understood the five Top 14 owners driving their side of the Anglo-French breakaway might be unable to deliver.

Having pulled the plug on the Rugby Champions Cup last week, France’s clubs stated that they will withdraw from the Heineken Cup if the English are absent.

Gloucester director of rugby Nigel Davies believes it would be a natural fit for the Welsh regions to join the Premiership.

“Take the Welsh regions out of the Celtic League and that causes a whole host of problems,” Davies said.

“But in terms of coming into an English system, or an Anglo-Welsh system, it’s got a lot of merit.”


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