Heineken Cup: Stakeholders have 'positive' European meeting

European club and regional rugby representatives have held a "positive meeting" with the Six Nations' unions about creating a new European Cup.

The tournament would be run by the Six Nations committee, rather than current organisers European Rugby Cup (ERC).

A stakeholders' statement said: "The meeting was constructive and progress was made, with all parties working towards a European competition."

A key issue is the clubs' desire for greater commercial powers.

2013-14 Heineken Cup structure

  • France: 7 teams (Castres, Toulon, Toulouse, Clermont-Auvergne, Racing Metro, Montpellier, Perpignan)
  • England: 6 (Northampton, Exeter, Saracens, Harlequins, Leicester, Gloucester)
  • Ireland: 4 (Leinster, Connacht, Ulster, Munster)
  • Wales: 3 (Ospreys, Cardiff Blues, Scarlets)
  • Scotland: 2 (Glasgow, Edinburgh)
  • Italy: 2 (Zebre, Treviso)

Although they are committed to setting up the new European tournament, sources at the English Premiership clubs have indicated a resolution must be found as a matter of urgency, or they will press on with plans to expand the Premiership to include the Welsh regions.

The Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) released a statement of its own on Wednesday, saying there was "cautious optimism... towards agreement for the European competition structure from next season".

Wales' regions are understood to be encouraged by the signs from Wednesday's meeting, but frustrated at the route taken to get there.

Once the new European structure has been approved, the issue of television rights will be addressed.

The six governing unions - in England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales - had committed to a new Heineken Cup tournament, which would be shown by current broadcast partner Sky.

But the English Premiership clubs insist they will not take part and had proposed a rival cross-border competition, the Rugby Champions' Cup, which would be broadcast by BT Sport.

The Welsh regions supported the Rugby Champions' Cup as they claimed it would guarantee them extra revenue, putting them at odds with the WRU. But the latest round of talks may lead to a new tournament involving all six nations.