By Tadhg Peavoy
Current Heineken Cup champions Toulon have backed the Heineken Cup and the ERC by stating that they will compete in the competition next season due to LNR laws on foreign-trained players.
According to French website Rugby365, Mourad Boudjellal, the president of Toulon, has responded to the Ligue National de Rugby's attempts to limit the number of foreign-trained players eligible to play for Top 14 clubs, by saying they will boycott the Premiership and LNR backed Rugby Champions Cup concept in favour of the Heineken Cup.
The LNR has revealed plans to give financial incentives to clubs that maintain a squad of more than 55% French-trained players by 2017. This includes non-Frenchman who have spent three seasons in a French club's academy system.
Boudjellal has reacted to these proposals by telling La Provence newspaper that if the LNR plans continue the club will opt out of the Rugby Champions Cup as a reactionary measure.
He said: "In the face of these despicable practices, which are racist and conservative, the club will take part in the H Cup next season since the ERC does not have quotas on foreign players, contrary to the LNR's ruling."
The move may be construed as political posturing by Toulon, and will no doubt anger the Premiership and LNR as they seek to establish the Rugby Champions Cup.
If the LNR's plans go ahead, and Toulon do not change the structure of their club to include more French or French-trained players, they would face a reduction in TV rights and marketing money, as would any club that adopts a similar stance.
At present, Toulon would not fit into these regulations, therefore meaning they would have to dramatically restructure the current squad and in turn adapt their transfer policy.