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The World Club Cup can't come soon enough

Fly-half Richie Mo'unga, now playing for Toshiba Brave Lupus Tokyo in Japan, is currently off limits to the All Blacks (Photo Koki Nagahama/Getty Images)

My only slight dismay at news that a World Club Cup might happen, is having to wait until 2028 to see it.


Our rugby competitions in New Zealand are stale, at best. At worst, they’re on life support.

A World Club Cup could be the thing that saves them.

Presumably, the top six clubs from Super Rugby Pacific will be the ones who form our portion of the proposed 16-team, four-week tournament in the northern hemisphere.

I sincerely hope that’s the actual top six teams. Not a reprise of the nonsensical conference system that was an embarrassment to Super Rugby for a time.

Oh yes. I’m pretty sure I remember the Lions qualifying for home finals one season without having had a New Zealand team on the schedule.

Or the Hurricanes finishing third overall, but having to go play the Brumbies in Canberra because they were Australia’s top-qualifier.

Something like that, anyway.

The point is, if we are having a World Club Cup and we are sending six teams from Super Rugby Pacific – or whatever it’s called by 2028 – then they need to qualify on merit. Not three from New Zealand and three from Australia, for instance.


If the Fijian Drua or Moana Pasifika are among those six teams – assuming they’re still in the competition – then that’s fine by me.

As long as it’s all about merit and where you actually finish on the table.

The World Club Cup is exciting on its own merits, with a forecast eight teams from Europe, six from Super and two from Japan.

It’s the kind of rugby we’ve been crying out for.

But it’s what it adds to our competition – a bit like qualification for the Champions League in European football – that has the potential to create excitement.



I’ve not read anything about World Club Cup prize money yet, but I hope that goes solely to the participating clubs and not their governing bodies.

I don’t love rugby being a nanny state here and nor do I have any particular interest in salary caps or even distributions of talent.

All leagues have some mechanism to theoretically even things out, whether it’s a Luxury Tax in the NBA or Financial Fair Play in football.

But, essentially, it’s the big clubs and big franchises in the big markets that generally reign supreme. And, when they don’t, like Chelsea FC or Manchester United at the moment, fans, former players and pundits line up to criticise them.

That’s professional sport. That’s interesting. That engages audiences. That sells subscriptions and generates readers.

If you can qualify for the World Club Cup every four years – as it’s initially been earmarked for – and win it once or twice, then you deserve to be well-compensated.

For those that don’t qualify, you create a very real incentive to do so next time.

Hopefully it’s the start of things to come.

Schedules are always juggling acts, but when the ICC saw how much money their men’s Twenty20 World Cup generated, they quickly decided to have them every two years instead of four.

We don’t know what rugby’s World Club Cup could become, but we’re acutely aware in New Zealand of how quickly things can stagnate when you’re content to maintain the status quo.



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Jon 1 days ago
Why Sam Cane's path to retirement is perfect for him and the All Blacks

> It would be best described as an elegant solution to what was potentially going to be a significant problem for new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson. It is a problem the mad population of New Zealand will have to cope with more and more as All Blacks are able to continue their careers in NZ post RWCs. It will not be a problem for coaches, who are always going to start a campaign with the captain for the next WC in mind. > Cane, despite his warrior spirit, his undoubted commitment to every team he played for and unforgettable heroics against Ireland in last year’s World Cup quarter-final, was never unanimously admired or respected within New Zealand while he was in the role. Neither was McCaw, he was considered far too passive a captain and then out of form until his last world cup where everyone opinions changed, just like they would have if Cane had won the WC. > It was never easy to see where Cane, or even if, he would fit into Robertson’s squad given the new coach will want to be building a new-look team with 2027 in mind. > Cane will win his selections on merit and come the end of the year, he’ll sign off, he hopes, with 100 caps and maybe even, at last, universal public appreciation for what was a special career. No, he won’t. Those returning from Japan have already earned the right to retain their jersey, it’s in their contract. Cane would have been playing against England if he was ready, and found it very hard to keep his place. Perform, and they keep it however. Very easy to see where Cane could have fit, very hard to see how he could have accomplished it choosing this year as his sabbatical instead of 2025, and that’s how it played out (though I assume we now know what when NZR said they were allowing him to move his sabbatical forward and return to NZ next year, they had actually agreed to simply select him for the All Blacks from overseas, without any chance he was going to play in NZ again). With a mammoth season of 15 All Black games they might as well get some value out of his years contract, though even with him being of equal character to Richie, I don’t think they should guarantee him his 100 caps. That’s not what the All Blacks should be about. He absolutely has to play winning football.

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