RFU against expanded Premiership
The Rugby Football Union says it would block any plans to expand the English Premiership from 12 to 14 clubs.
Premier Rugby, the organisation that oversees the top-flight clubs, said earlier this week that expansion was a possibility in "two or three years".
But an RFU spokesman said the decision would need approval from the governing body, saying: "That is unlikely to be forthcoming at the current time."
The RFU restated that relegation from the top flight is protected until 2016.
Newspaper reports over the weekend said expansion of the Premiership was being examined by Premier Rugby (PRL).
However, PRL chief executive Mark McCafferty insisted its plans did not include any form of stopping relegation or promotion and ring fencing the Premiership.
At present, the bottom team at the end of the 22-game regular season is relegated and replaced by the team that wins the second-tier Championship.
On Sunday, Worcester were relegated after losing to rivals Leeds at Headingley.
Premier Rugby is looking to substantially increase the size of its TV deal when it negotiates a new contract in 2013. If successful, this additional revenue could pave the way for two more clubs.
But there seems little desire at the RFU to sanction such an increase.
"Making a change of this nature is not a decision for PRL and its broadcasters to make - it would require RFU approval and that is unlikely to be forthcoming at the current time," said a Twickenham spokesman.
"The concept of relegation and promotion is legally enshrined in the eight-year agreement between PRL, its clubs and the RFU which lasts through until 2016."
Earlier in the week, McCafferty told BBC Radio 5 live that they will not go for expansion "before the new TV contract in two or three years' time".
He added: "The bigger challenge is, if you increase the number of games then you risk increasing games which overlap with international weekends, so that season structure is an issue."
The PRL chief added that the Premiership was in a "good position".
"We're seeing quite significant growth in interest and attendances in the Premiership," he continued.
"It's part of that we're looking to address - how do you ensure the club game continues to grow between 2010 to when the Rugby World Cup comes to the country in 2015?"
A full league system did not start in rugby union in England until 1987, when the Courage Leagues were formed.
The sport went professional in 1995 and the top division was rebranded the Premiership for the 1997-98 season, with Guinness replacing Zurich as the ***le sponsors in 2005.
The top flight had as few as 10 clubs in the mid 1990s, although in the 1998-99 season there were 14, while the number has stayed steady at 12 since 1999.
I think that if you are going to have relegation/promotion that they should have more than 12 teams i mean even the SH comp has more than that. I'm sure there are teams that could easily fill the two added spots and you could have at the second tier level say 2nd to 5th a playoff to see who gets the second spot its worked well in football and you can have the final at twickers and make it a big event.