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Last Updated: Friday, 27 May, 2005, 16:08 GMT 17:08 UK
Anglo-Welsh Cup set for go-ahead
Action from this season's Heineken Cup match between Cardiff Blues and Gloucester
The new tournament could be worth 7m to English and Welsh sides
An agreement for an Anglo-Welsh Cup could finally be announced next week.

The plan sees the four Welsh regions each being put into groups alongside three English teams for pool matches next October and December.

Said the Welsh Rugby Union's Steve Lewis: "We're all very hopeful we will have an Anglo-Welsh Cup next season."

But the Irish and Scots are angry with the plans and are threatening to throw the Welsh out of the Celtic League, replacing them with Italian sides.

That is a hollow threat as far as the WRU is concerned, but a meeting of the Celtic League nations will take place on Tuesday when the brinkmanship will be settled.

It's a 16-team competition we and the regions believe we can deliver
WRU general manager Steve Lewis

Lewis added: "The WRU and the regions are on voice on this.

"The reason an Anglo-Welsh couldn't be brought to the table a month or two back was because we weren't prepared to enter into a competition which would involve the top four First Division clubs.

"That would have made it into a 20-team competition. We couldn't accommodate that with out current obligations to the Celtic League.

"Now there are just the 12 [English] Premier sides and four regions involved.

"It's a 16-team competition we and the regions believe we can deliver."

If the Anglo-Welsh tournament gets the green light, it would signal the end of proposals for a cup competition between the Celtic nations, South Africa and Italy.

The Welsh Rugby Union gave the so-called Rainbow Cup a cool welcome when organisers released the plans earlier this month.

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