British club rugby enters Europe this season with a pilot scheme involving Ireland, Wales, France and Italy. Neither England nor Scotland can take part in the midweek competition because of commitments to the sponsors of their domestic leagues and cups.
Representative of the Five Nations met at the weekend and a European cross-border competition was high on the agenda. John Jeavons-Fellows, one of the Rugby Football Union's two representatives on the International Rugby Football Board (IRFB), attended the meeting and said last night: "There was a general agreement that there will be a European competition involving all five nations and Italy in 1996.
"It was something that was loosely agreed at a meeting in May, but it has now been confirmed. We will now be working on details. The competition this year is a bit of a pilot and we are not sure of the form as yet. We will be having a further meeting later this week, when we are in Paris for the IRFB meeting on amateurism, to work out more details.
"Wales, Ireland and France, plus Italy probably, are going to have a little dabble in a fairly loose form of competition to involve their clubs in Europe."
Jeavons-Fellows said that no sponsorship has been found for the pilot scheme and television, as yet, has made no moves to broadcast matches, although ITV were very interested when a European competition was first mooted some 18 months ago.
He said: "I didn't get the impression there was any intention to go hell for leather for television and sponsorship for this year. It is truly a pilot scheme so that when we come to do the business in 1996 we're up and running with a bit of experience."
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