'We need it': Blues chief executive reveals plans for global club competition are underway
Blues chief executive Andrew Hore has revealed plans to create a Champions League-style global club competition are underway.
“We’re working towards a global club competition,” he said.
“There’s a couple of small things that need to be tweaked and changed – a shifting of windows, somewhat – but the governing bodies see the merit in it and we need it.
“We need [Super Rugby] to attach to something and it would be wonderful to go to that next step.”
Hore confirmed such a competition would see the best teams from Europe’s leagues – the Premiership, Top 14 and recently-renamed United Rugby Championship [formerly PRO14] – square off against the best from Super Rugby.
Previous reports of a potential Club World Cup have indicated Japanese and North American clubs could be also be involved.
In the lead-up to last year’s World Rugby elections, World Rugby vice-chairman and French Rugby Federation president Bernard Laporte unveiled plans to develop a six-week Club World Cup.
At the time of his announcement, Laporte said six teams would qualify from Super Rugby, as would four each from England, France and the PRO14, while the champions of the Top League and Major League Rugby would also be included.
However, an overhaul in Super Rugby since then has seen the four South African franchises join the United Rugby Championship, while the 10 New Zealand and Australian sides, as well as Moana Pasifika and the Fijian Drua, are set to create a new Pacific-based Super Rugby format next year.
That could force a restructure to Laporte’s plans, if they are to go ahead, as the 16-team United Rugby Championship could instead be handed six qualification spots while Super Rugby’s 12 teams could battle for four Club World Cup berths.
However, AFP reported last month that European Professional Club Rugby [EPCR] chief executive Vincent Gaillard preferred an eight-team global club competition to be staged once every four years.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) June 18, 2021
With the World Cup, Olympic Games and British and Irish Lions tour acting as the major rugby events in three of the four years of a World Cup cycle, a Club World Cup could be used as the fourth major event to take place in the years following a Lions tour and preceding a World Cup.
Regardless of the structure of the competition, Gaillard said discussions to bring the tournament to fruition were “progressing really very nicely”.
Those comments came three months after Stuff reported that Harlequins and Scarlets board member Sean Fitzpatrick, Panasonic Wild Knights coach Robbie Deans and Toshiba Brave Lupus coach Todd Blackadder were all keen on the idea of a Club World Cup.
Top League chairman Osamu Oita also threw his support behind the concept as he said he expected a Club World Cup to be staged “in the near future”.
“If the club world championship can be held that is a very good thing for us,” Ota told Stuff.
“If some of the Japanese clubs can make it that is a positive for us, so I’m expecting the club world championship will be held in the near future.
“But of course many discussions have to be conducted to find the best format for everyone. We need to think about the player welfare as well as the international calendar, which is very difficult.
“So, everyone needs to capture the big picture of what is going on on a global basis to sort out the right place and the right timing.”
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