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Seismic modifications to rugby could see a new Club World Cup replace the Heineken Champions Cup in the future, as the sport considers a monumental overhaul to increase finances.
French Rugby Federation president Bernard Laporte – who wants to run World Rugby alongside Bill Beaumont and hopes to be elected as vice-chairman next month – has proposed the new competition.
It would consist of 20 of the top clubs, six from southern hemisphere’s Super Rugby, four each from England’s Premiership, France’s Top14 and the PRO14 plus the champion team from the USA and Japan, playing a World Cup-style tournament in pools before a knockout stage culminating in a grand final.
The idea is that this money-spinning Club World Cup would take six-weeks and be a new staple of the calendar every year – but it would spell the end for the most prestigious competition in the European game, the Champions Cup.
EPCR, Champions Cup organisers, said talks were underway in terms of the new format but that it was focused on reprogramming the knockout stages of the current season.
It said in a statement: ‘Discussions have already taken place on an official level between EPCR and its shareholders regarding a global club tournament which could complement the Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup and which could take place once every four years. Work on possible formats is ongoing with a collaborative approach and issues of player welfare to the fore.
‘EPCR does not believe it appropriate to highlight such discussions while the public health crisis due to COVID-19 continues, and currently, the organisation’s focus is on attempting to reschedule the knockout stages of the 2019/20 tournaments subject to government and local authority directives.’
As the structure of the world game is questioned while sport is paused due to the coronavirus pandemic, Laporte feels his proposal could dedicate a space in the crammed calendar for clubs.
‘This is only a proposal,’ Laporte, who will be current World Rugby chairman Beaumont’s running mate at next month’s elections, told Midi Olympique.