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Why a Rugby Club World Cup wouldn't 'be good for supporters'

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

It’s one of the many questions that rugby fans around the world would love to have answered: which club team would reign supreme if the best of the best were pitted against each other?


In July, The Telegraph revealed plans for a Rugby Club World Cup involving the best teams from both hemispheres.

The competition, which would reportedly start in 2025, would include eight northern hemisphere teams, seven Super Rugby teams, and a Japanese side.

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And it’s an idea which has worked for another sport in the past.

The FIFA Club World Cup has quickly become one of the premier football competitions in the world, and has helped the sport embody its label as ‘the world game.’

Since the turn of the millennium when it was introduced, the tournament has proven itself to be an overwhelming success as it’s made its way to various locations around the world.

But just because it works for football, doesn’t mean it’ll work for rugby; a sport which is steeped in tradition.


In an interview with Rugby World, which was recently published online but was included in the October issue of the magazine, the concept of the Club World Cup was debated.

Chairman of the Exeter Chiefs Supporters’ Club Richard Cresswell explained why the tournament “would be good” for rugby fans.

“I have been to every Chiefs’ European game since they went up, but I won’t be going to South Africa this season and I don’t think a lot of people will,” Cresswell told Rugby World.

“Since the pandemic the number of people going to away games, even in the UK, has been dropping and I’m not sure there would be a great reception for a World Cup Championship. That is my personal view.


“Even with the European Cup now including South African teams, most supporters I’m speaking to say, ‘that is another match we won’t be able to go to.’ People haven’t got enough money to travel thousands of miles to support their teams.

“Scrapping the end of the European Cup for a year would be very sad. AS supporters we enjoy going over to Europe, to France.

“Europe is doable but further afield would be out of people’s reach. You can’t go to the southern hemisphere for the weekend and there’s won’t be many going to South Africa, I can guarantee that.


“I’ve been to support the Lions in New Zealand and if you do a trip like that, you don’t do it for a game, you do it for a tour.

“I don’t think it would be good for supporters.”

The competition could potentially see the likes of the Crusaders take on Leinster, or for La Rochelle to battle it out with the Blues.

There are a lot of rugby supporters who would undoubtedly love to see these matches come to fruition.

Fijian Drua chief executive Mark Evans would agree with those fans who are for the competition, saying the event could be “quite decent” for all teams involved.

“I’m not sure a Club World Cup is agreed, but with the caveat the good thing about it is it taps into the current year. You qualify for it for what you do in this season,” Evans said.

“That’s really important as it’s one thing that weakens the Champions Cup, where you qualify for it the year before. Yes, that happens in football but the big clubs always qualify anyway.

“It would be quite difficult not to qualify out of Super Rugby, with seven of them progressing, and there Is the question of where they are going to play all the games?

“In the news report, playing it in one block is a plus for the Premiership because you can play league games all the way from the end of the Six Nations.

“That gives it clear air, which is a big improvement on what happened last season when you were chopping and changing between tournaments and there was no narrative.

“It’s a move towards doing everything in blocks, which I would hope you would see eventually in a regular season… it looks good.

“As for the travel, it would make sense to play one tournament in the northern hemisphere, then four years later take it down south.

“If they are going to try to split it between hemispheres in the same year, I would have a major problem with it. As long as they don’t do that, I think it’s quite decent.”


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