Options were urgently being sought last night to keep professional rugby alive in Scotland and Wales after plans for a British or Anglo-Welsh league appeared to have been finally rejected.

Wales coach Graham Henry voiced his disppointment at the failure to agree a new structure, but said of the Welsh Rugby Union's decision to vote down a proposal put to them by the English: ''It was right to reject this paltry offer.

''The whole idea was to improve rugby in Wales, Scotland and England after Ireland decided not to take part.''

The English had demonstrated their contempt for any interests other than their own by putting forward a proposal which would allow five Welsh clubs to join a two division set-up for next season, two in the top division and three in the lower one.

''What was proposed wasn't British, just a few Welsh clubs in a predominantly English league which would have been no good to anyone,'' said Henry.

SRU chief executive Bill Watson was not prepared to completely dismiss the possibility of British League talks being revived.

''It is the most logical solution to the search for an integrated structure for Northern Hemisphere rugby,'' he said, ''and there is overwhelming support for the concept.

''I don't think it's totally dead, though. England have to say they've left the table altogether. ''

However Watson, who has been unwilling to discuss other possible ways forward, to the point of obduracy, understood the dangers of being portrayed as a latter day Canute failing to acknowledge the inevitable.

''We're not stuck with one way forward,'' he said, while unwilling to elaborate on what options might be available.

Nor would he comment on whether the SRU has formally entered into discussions over the formation of a Gaelic, or Celtic, League.

However he accepted that there is real urgency to put a fixture list for next season together rapidly to reassure all sectors of the domestic game.

''I think we will start losing our top players unless we're able to tell them what we are doing,'' he said.

''I believe that has to be done by the end of February.''