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Warren Gatland cautiously optimistic about mooted competition: 'Sometimes under crisis there's an opportunity to fix things.'

Warren Gatland. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Warren Gatland has provided words of wisdom for any cross-hemisphere rugby competition that tries to get off the ground, noting it must be a fan-friendly experience.

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French rugby boss Bernard Laporte indicated his desire to make a world club championship tournament happen to bring something fresh to the game.

While the premise – six Super Rugby teams, four each from the English Premiership, French Top 14 and PRO14, plus the league champions from Japan and the United States involved – is an exciting one, Chiefs coach Gatland told Newstalk ZB’s Nigel Yalden the right steps need to be taken to ensure its success.

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Mako Vunipola took on England teammate Jack Nowell in the Quarter-Final of the RugbyPass FIFA Pros competition.

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Mako Vunipola took on England teammate Jack Nowell in the Quarter-Final of the RugbyPass FIFA Pros competition.

“I think whatever structures they come up with, you’ve got to have continuity and give people time to buy into it,” Gatland said.

“We’ve got to be very careful about restructuring and changing because people lose a bit of interest. We saw that in the Northern Hemisphere a few years ago when we had the Heineken Cup and it was run by the four unions and it was incredibly exciting when it came to the semifinals.

“Then the clubs got involved and they wanted to take over and said they could generate more money. The struggled to get the same level of sponsorship…and it just lost the same appeal and interest.

“I think a little bit the same has happened to Super Rugby.”

Rugby is among the many sports to be hit hard financially by the coronavirus pandemic, with all leagues around the world coming to a halt.

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During the layoff, there have been a number of suggested competitions or series to help pump some money back into the game, with Gatland himself suggesting his British and Irish Lions squad play against the All Blacks in a test to decide their drawn series from 2017.

“I suppose everyone’s just trying to throw ideas into the pot and brainstorm about what potentially could there be going forward,” Gatland said. “Sometimes under crisis there’s an opportunity to fix things or to come up with a better format, or add to things. I think this is one of the potential ideas.

“There’s no doubt globally everyone is struggling not just in rugby but all the peripheries of the sport in terms of financial, and we’re trying to generate as much income as we can in as shorter space as possible to get things up and running again.”

This article first appeared on nzherald.co.nz and is republished with permission.

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