EPCR Chairman Simon Halliday has confirmed that the three main northern hemisphere leagues have agreed a further eight years of European rugby competition, although the inclusion of South African clubs in any future tournaments is still up in the air.
Halliday also said that the possibility of a global club competition is something that could be on the table.
The Bulls, Stormers, Sharks and Lions are set to join an expanded PRO16 tournament, a move which potentially creates an opportunity for the EPCR to bring those franchises into a wider, two continent inter-club competition.
The sides were scheduled to face PRO14 opposition over the course of April and May in the new-fangled Rainbow Cup, but the lack of a European base to play out of due to the concerns around Covid-19 have meant that any inter-continental games have been ruled out.
Speaking to BT Sports, Halliday admitted that the organisation was yet to come to an agreement around the inclusion of the South African franchises in the Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup.
“All of our stakeholders are changing and improving, so the opportunity that could be presented to us through the South African franchises coming in to make it a PRO16, that’s not agreed yet, but the debate is very advanced.
“The opportunity to look at global club competition at some point in the future, all of these things are open for us to look at and develop and make a reality.
“Fans are going to be more excited about that opportunity in years to come.”
A big update on the future of European Rugby from Simon Halliday…
We're getting eight more years of European competition with all three leagues agreeing ? pic.twitter.com/RT6ummpEQB
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) April 25, 2021
Over 38 million fans watched the 2019/20 season in the UK, Ireland and France alone, up 53 per cent on the previous season.
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