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'NZR and the franchises in New Zealand are really up for it'

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Getty Images)

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Martin Anayi, the United Rugby Championship (URC) chief executive, has spoken optimistically about plans for an inaugural Club World Cup to be staged in 2024, claiming powerhouse unions such as New Zealand are in favour of getting the new tournament up and running not long after the completion of the 2023 World Cup in France.

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It was last week when Simon Halliday, the ex-England winger, revealed in his farewell statement as EPCR chairman that plans were advancing for the establishment of a club tournament that would involve all the major clubs from around the world. 

Now Anayi has added to the speculation, the CEO of the 16-team, five-nation tournament providing his perspective on what the future holds for the best teams in the URC and the possibility that they could eventually be running out against the likes of the Crusaders from New Zealand and the Brumbies from Australia in a Club World Cup.

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“We are involved,” said Anayi when asked during an appearance on The Rugby Pod what part the URC is having in the discussions surrounding the Club World Cup. “We are looking at how to use the weekends and what Simon Halliday said the other day is spot on, we are not trying to add new weekends.

“What we realise is if we could take the Champions Cup weekends in any fourth year and then put the top eight sides from the north versus the top eight sides from the south, then you have got something that can work over a four, five-weekend period. 

NZR and the franchises in New Zealand are really up for it and the same in Rugby Australia. Rugby has got a slightly novel opportunity with it that football doesn’t have because all the best teams are in Europe anyway in football but who knows in rugby. The Crusaders are probably up there, the Brumbies are probably still up there, the Reds are probably coming back into it and then in two cycles time have we done enough to help Japan come in, have we done enough that an American team could be there? 

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“One thing I am really interested in working on is how do we as club leagues really help the MLR, really help the South American league, help the Japanese league work with Super Rugby and the thing that can bind us all together in a really powerful quadrennial form is a Club World Cup. We are pushing for 2024 because it is the year after the World Cup and before Lions tour.”

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