EPCR chairman Simon Halliday has expressed annoyance at being blindsided by Bernard Laporte’s idea to set up a Club World Cup. The French rugby chief, who will become World Rugby vice-president if current chairman Bill Beaumont is re-elected next month, revealed his plan last Sunday for an annual 20-team tournament that would spell the end for the current Heineken Champions Cup.

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Laporte’s revelation spooked the EPCR, the organisers of the European tournaments, into admitting they had already been formulating plans on the potential running of a global club tournament every four years in the same way that the World Cup and the Lions tour happen every 48 months. 

European boss Simon Halliday has since sought assurances from World Rugby boss Beaumont that the EPCR concept won’t be hijacked by Laporte’s attention-grabbing suggestion ahead of the May election. 

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Ellis Genge takes on Denis Buckley in the quarter-finals of the RugbyPass FIFA charity tournament

Upset by what has happened this week, EPCR chairman Halliday told Telegraph Sport: “We are pretty unhappy that this speculation appears at this point when we are trying to navigate our way through a human crisis of global proportions.

“When I spoke to Bill he made it totally clear that whatever had been proposed was not done with the knowledge of World Rugby or him. I have thanked him for that clarity.

“The fact is that we are aligned on this vision that EPCR will administer and execute such a tournament were it come to reality. 

“It is something we aspire to and I think it is pretty logical. Clubs are thinking globally and are aspiring to become bigger and better.

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“We have decided that outside of Lions and World Cup years working on something for that year complement or replace the latter stages of the Heineken Cup. 

“Obviously we have bigger issues to deal with in the short term but everyone knows that our current heads of agreement for the tournament complete in 2022.”

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