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WRU block regions from playing in new Euro cup; WRU block regions from joining up with.


WALES' four regions were last night facing a worrying future as the possibility of them joining the Anglo-French European breakaway was hit by a double whammy.

First the WRU issued a hard-line statement where they declared they would refuse to sanction any involvement in the new Rugby Champions Cup for the Ospreys, Blues, Scarlets and Dragons.

Then the rebel road for the regions appeared to have been blocked too, with the English clubs unable to offer the Welsh quartet places in the Aviva Premiership as well as the new cross-border cup.

Any Welsh side considering jumping ship would need the guarantee of entry into the Premiership as they would not be able to compete in the Pro12 any more if they were to break away from the WRU.

The English clubs are keen to have the Welsh regions on board for the new European competition being set up for next season to replace the Heineken Cup.

However, we understand they believe they cannot deliver the Premiership part of the deal, arguing accommodating four more teams would dilute the league.

That English stance would appear to leave the Welsh regions with nowhere to go and facing a dire financial predicament, with only the Pro12 and the low-profile LV Cup to compete in next season.

The WRU yesterday upped the ante in the escalating European dispute by coming out - with the Irish and Scottish Unions - in strongly opposing the Anglo-French plans to set up a replacement for the Heineken Cup.

Welsh bosses stressed their commitment to the existing ERC-run competition and insisted they would not sanction any region or club taking part in tournaments which do not have the full approval of the IRB and the WRU.

The IRB have already made it clear they will not sanction the Rugby Champions Cup and the Celts have joined the French Federation in opposing the breakaway event.

That leaves the Welsh regions faced with a potentially bleak future.

They have real concerns over the position they find themselves in - worries they expressed to the WRU at talks on Wednesday.

Unlike the WRU, the Ospreys, Blues, Scarlets and Dragons are convinced the English and French clubs will not take part in the ERC-run Heineken Cup next season.

They have a growing belief that there will be no Heineken Cup full stop, which would have > TURN TO PAGE 51
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Sep 27, 2013
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