The IRFU has released a statement saying the Irish provinces will not play in any European tournament not sanctioned by the IRB. This would appear to rule them out, for now, of any participation in the Rugby Champions Cup, the breakaway competition being proposed by English and French clubs.
The full statement read:
The Irish Rugby Football Union wishes to clarify that its clubs (provinces) will not be participating in future tournaments which do not have the full approval of the International Rugby Board (IRB) or the relevant National Rugby Unions.
The IRFU and its clubs remain fully committed to the development of a pan European Rugby Competition and we welcome the recent comments made by the IRB Chairman, who confirmed that a pan European tournament remains the goal of the IRB. We are confident this can be achieved.
Our focus now is to work collaboratively with our colleagues across Europe, encouraging all parties to come to the table in order to engage in and conclude negotiations as speedily as possible.
The statement comes as a further blow to the English and French clubs, who have already lost the backing of the FFR (Fédération Française de Rugby) when they released a similar statement last week.
Leinster CEO Mick Dawson added: “The current European format has enriched rugby across the province, nationwide and globally and through our success in both the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup competitions this has helped significantly raise the profile of Leinster Rugby in recent years.
“The Leinster Rugby Professional Game Board remain 100% committed to the IRFU and will only play in a competition sanctioned by the IRFU and IRB.”
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