Dispute looms in European rugby

Getty Images     22 Sep 2013     Getty Images

Earlier on Sunday the breakaway group in England, headed by the Premiership clubs had said through chief executive Mark McCafferty that they expected Celtic and Italian teams to join the Rugby Champions Cup competition.

But the FFR responded by pointing out that any change needs the approval of the Rugby Football Union, the FFR and the International Rugby Board.

And so far as the FFR were concerned they would not be giving approval.

"No meeting or international competition involving French clubs can be organised outside the framework of the FFR and without its prior agreement," the FFR said in a statement.

The French officials went so far as to describe the planned changes to the European competition as 'irrelevant and inappropriate'.

However, the breakaway group are ploughing ahead with their plans but won't be releasing details of their planned structure until they know the teams involved.

"Once we know the final, or close to final, numbers then we'll settle on the competition formats," McCafferty said.

"Various people have approached us about the possibility of joining and we've indicated to them that we'll keep their names confidential."

He was confident of securing Rugby Football Union support but did not rule out legal action if they didn't.

"You can't just say from a legal point of view 'we don't want it so we're not going to approve it', especially when there's a conflict of interests.

"We'll try to overcome the issues and then take it from there. We're asking for support. We'd expect that support," McCafferty said.