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Inaugural World Club Cup on course for 2028 launch

By PA
Johnny McNicholl of the Crusaders, Garry Ringrose and Robbie Henshaw of Leinster (Photos By Harry Murphy/Sportsfile via Getty Images and Joe Allison/Getty Images)

Rugby union’s inaugural World Club Cup is on course to launch in 2028 as talks over the new competition reach an advanced stage.

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All five leagues involved in the four-week tournament that will be hosted in the northern hemisphere in June are in support of the concept being driven by European Professional Club Rugby, the PA news agency understands.

While an agreement has yet to be finalised, the format of the WCC is taking shape with eight European sides, six from Super Rugby and two teams from Japan to be involved.

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Qualification is meritocratic only with the top eight seeds from the group stage of the Investec Champions Cup given the chance to compete, even if some nations are unrepresented as a result.

The competition will run every four years, meaning there will not be a European champion for that year, although a more competitive Challenge Cup will take place for those not involved in the WCC.

Crucially, the Gallagher Premiership, Top 14 and United Rugby Championship are open to playing their finals in May in order to accommodate the new tournament in June.

Reaching this point in the planning process is a significant achievement for EPCR chairman Dominic McKay and chief executive Jacques Raynaud given the concept of matching the best club sides from Europe and the southern hemisphere has been mooted for years without any progress being made.

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It is understood that the prospect of a strong commercial return for all stakeholders from the WCC has been key to the momentum behind establishing it in 2028.

EPCR is also aiming to launch a women’s version of the Champions Cup in 2026 with talks between the relevant leagues and unions to be held in June.

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