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ESPN SCRUM / Aviva Premiership 2013-14 / News
Aviva Premiership
Tigers welcome Anglo-Welsh league
ESPN Staff
December 8, 2013
Tigers chairman Peter Tom wants the Welsh to join the Premiership © Getty Images

Leicester Tigers boss Peter Tom has backed plans to expand the top flight to include the four Welsh regions.

The English clubs will not be taking in part in next season's Heineken Cup as they refuse to take part in any competition run by European Rugby Cup Ltd. That leaves the English clubs with nine weekends worth of rugby to fill and they are exploring various options with matches against South African sides one possibility and also an expansion of the Premiership. And Tom claims an Anglo-Welsh league has been discussed.

"The Welsh regions are all very keen to be competing in the Aviva Premiership from next season," Tom told the Rugby Paper. "We have discussed the matter at board level and given it our unanimous approval. The Welsh teams are 100% solid in their desire to join forces with us. They see the restoration of the traditional fixtures with the English clubs as the most effective way of bringing back the crowds they've lost in recent seasons.

"We cannot march the Welsh teams to the top of the hill and drop them. The regions are fighting for their very existence but this isn't a one-way street. Every English club wants to fill its stadium and there's no question that the Welsh teams will give the Premiership a new dimension."

The four Welsh regions are currently involved in a dispute with the Welsh Rugby Union over their right to play in cross-border competitions and the matter could end up in court. The four regions previously backed the breakaway Rugby Champions Cup but with the French giving the Heineken Cup their support, any plans for a club-run European competition are now on hold.

The regions meet the WRU on Wednesday to thrash out talks regarding the ongoing player exodus and financial concerns and Tom believes the regions are in a good place to force change.

"Clearly there are issues, not least between the Welsh regions and their Union," Tom added. "Even so, there is more than a possibility that it will happen otherwise we wouldn't have wasted time talking about it in the boardroom. I'm not a lawyer but based on our conversations with the Welsh, they appear to have a very strong case, assuming they decide to take legal action."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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