Premiership Rugby, which operates the top rugby union division in England, could take legal action against World Rugby over a row surrounding player insurance, according to The Guardian newspaper.
Premiership Rugby reportedly wrote to World Rugby, giving the global governing body 21 days to agree to significant regulatory changes, or face the legal consequences.
The dispute surrounds World Rugby’s regulation that clubs are compensated by unions for players injured on international duty who earn £225,000 per year or less. Currently, if players earn more than that figure, the excess is supposed to be covered by the clubs.
The newspaper has said that World Rugby has offered to increase the threshold to £350,000. However, Premiership Rugby wants the limit scrapped completely, having argued that there are 60 non-English internationals who play in the top flight and earn more than £225,000 per year.
World Rugby has so far refused to accept the body’s requests, which also included removing a 12-month limit, meaning that clubs are liable for any injury that lasts longer than one year.
The previous deal between the two parties, which was reached just before the 2015 Rugby World Cup, expired in June. The 2019 Rugby World Cup will take place in Japan, but Premiership Rugby has already said it is planning to block non-English players from joining their national squads until mid-August, just over a month before the start of the tournament.
“We went to World Rugby with this set of principles and frankly we’ve reached the point where we’ve exhausted all our other options,” Premiership Rugby’s director of rugby, Phil Winstanley, said. “We would hope that World Rugby realise we are serious and this needs addressing. We’ve had a lot of dialogue but we have to draw a line in the sand. We can’t keep having conversations about it and not actually doing anything about it. Especially on the basis that we had an agreement in place for three years and that appears to have been withdrawn.”