Heineken Cup: IRB open to Anglo-French alternative

International Rugby Board (IRB) chief executive Brett Gosper would back an Anglo-French competition - if it had the individual unions' approval.

Top-flight English and French clubs want to form a replacement competition for the Heineken Cup from next season.

The IRB council must sanction any cross border tournament and Gosper's ideal scenario is a full-European tournament.

2013-14 Heineken Cup structure
  • France: 7 (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, Scarlets)
  • Scotland: 2 (Glasgow, Edinburgh)
  • Italy: 2 (Zebre, Treviso)

    But he told BBC Sport: "If both unions approve it and felt comfortable with it, the likelihood is we'd approve it."

    He added: "Before it got to us, the RFU would have to approve their clubs partaking in such a competition, and then the French would have to approve their clubs.

    "If they are not comfortable with it, then it would be doubtful that we would approve such a competition.

    "We want a full European contest, which is in the interests of the global game and the game in Europe."

    Gosper insisted he remains "very hopeful and optimistic" a compromise can be reached.

    Heineken Cup organisers European Rugby Cup (ERC) will hold further talks on 23 October as they seek an agreement.

    English and French clubs said last week discussions with the ERC had "been unsuccessful" and they could "only conclude that negotiations on any new European agreement have now ended".

    They are unhappy with the differing ways teams qualify for the Heineken Cup and how proceeds are shared.

    The owners and chairmen of the 12 English Premiership clubs meet on Wednesday as they continue to plan a new European competition, confident their Anglo-French initiative can get off the ground.