The president of the French Rugby Union, Bernard Laporte, is proposing a radical new club rugby competition which could see the much loved but often maligned Champions Cup become defunct.
Laporte is hoping to become vice-chairman of World Rugby and he will seek election next month as Bill Beaumont aims to continue as chairman of the game’s world governing body.
Laporte’s proposal is aimed at increasing revenue in the club game, a pertinent issue especially in the context of collapsing revenue streams in the current COVID-19 impacted climate.
The proposal would see the creation of a ‘Club World Cup’ involving the top 20 clubs around the world. The games would be played on the weekends which are currently allocated to European club competition.
“The European competition is magnificent, with Toulon I was able to lift the trophy three times and I know what it can represent,” Laporte, who was previously the head coach of Toulon, told Midi Olympique.
“But let’s be frank, it does not generate enough income. If we want to develop this Club World Cup, we have to find dates. Without the Champions Cup, nine weekends are available.”
The proposed format would follow that of the World Cup, with 20 teams divided into four pools of five followed by quarter-finals, semi-finals and a final.
Four teams would qualify from the PRO14, Premiership and Top 14 while six would qualify from Super Rugby. The final two spots would be allocated to the league champions of Japan and USA’s domestic competitions.
“This is only a proposal, but I am sure of one thing, we must create this competition and very quickly. It could be a breath of fresh air for the whole of world rugby.”
Although supporters would be keen on the idea of the southern hemisphere and northern hemisphere clubs facing off against one another, issues surrounding the logistics of such a competition, attendances and the ever-important broadcasting rights would seem difficult to solve.