English clubs confirm exit from Heineken Cup

LONDON (AP) England's best players will go into their home Rugby World Cup in 2015 without a season of high-level European club action.

The Premiership clubs confirmed they will boycott the Heineken Cup next season, not wanting to have anything to do with cup organizers European Rugby Cup, which is guided by national unions.

Premiership Rugby gave notice to the ERC 18 months ago that it was pulling out of the Heineken Cup after this season because it didn't like the financial, qualification and competition structure. The English and French Top 14 backed plans for clubs to own more control in a new competition next season called the Rugby Champions Cup, until the French clubs backpedalled last week under pressure from the French Rugby Federation.

The English agreed late Thursday not to compete in any tournaments run by ERC, and look at options to fill the nine free weekends they have next season.

Those options include an expanded Premiership, an Anglo-Welsh competition with the Welsh regions who are unhappy with their own national union, and playing with South African teams.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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