THE International Rugby Board have stressed that they will not back any European competition that does not have the backing of its member unions, writes Chris Kirwan.

Chairman Bernard Lapasset has said that the organisation will work to break the current deadlock in order to have "a genuine European competition that has Europe's top players and fans at heart".

The four Welsh regions – Newport Gwent Dragons, the Ospreys, Cardiff Blues and the Scarlets – have backed English plans for a competition governed by the clubs rather than the unions.

However, the Welsh Rugby Union, along with their Irish, Scottish, French and Italian counterparts, has committed to playing in a tournament run by European Rugby Cup next season.

Lapasset said: "In order to reach an outcome that is in the best interests of rugby globally, the IRB will work actively with its Unions towards the goal of achieving a unified and acceptable outcome for all stakeholders involved.

"In the interests of the global game, the IRB reaffirms that it will not support any cross border competitions that are not approved by the Unions of any participating clubs, rugby bodies and host countries in full accordance with IRB regulations and bye-laws."