English clubs still to sign up for Club World Cup tournament

European rugby chiefs are driving plans to create a Club World Cup to be played every four years involving eight teams from the Northern and Southern Hemispheres but English officials insist that nothing has been signed or agreed.
The Club World Cup is understood to be driven by Mark McCaffery, formerly in charge of Premiership Rugby and now a non executive director on the board of European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR), who organise the Heineken Champions Cup and European Challenge Cup.
The competition, which would take place instead of the knockout rounds of the Champions Cup and see the Premiership final brought forward to early May, with the new competition starting in 2025 and held every four years.
The proposal is for eight northern hemisphere clubs and seven from the southern hemisphere, plus a Japanese side to be placed in four pools, each playing two matches against teams from the other hemisphere. The winner of each pool would progress to the semi-finals with the winner being able to call themselves the world club champion.
A Premiership insider told RugbyPass the arrival of private equity firm CVC who have bought into the Six Nations and leading European leagues has triggered the search for new competitions and revenue, explaining: “The world club cup has been going on for some time and it has always been a European lead idea and when CVC came in it was something they were interested in pursuing. CVC are involved in competitions in Europe and there have been loads of changes in recent years with different structures and the question is: where is Europe going?
“With the current playing cycle Europe has been talking to the Southern Hemisphere and seeing how it can work now that the end of our season and theirs are more closely aligned. It is very early but if the top eight from both Hemispheres met it would be a good tournament and worth exploring. However, it is a bit premature but is being driven by EPCR because it is their competition window.
“The Northern and South Hemisphere different competition sponsors and broadcast rights sales and therefore there are all sorts of commercial aspects to be sorted out. The concept is good it is just does the format work and can it be a commercial success?”
A competition to find the best team in the world has been enthusiastically backed by Steve Diamond, the Worcester boss, who is the longest serving director of rugby in the English game. He sees the new concept as crucial to helping the sport become financially viable following the massive impact on the sport’s finances caused by the pandemic.
Diamond told RugbyPass: “There is some information around and they have got to an advanced stage and the people who run the Premiership and the owners know what they are doing. With investors like CVC it is important to make the game as global as possible and if you are one of the clubs that gets to the knock out stages of the Heineken Cup then there is going to be an added incentive to play in another competition not every year.
“ I am all for it and positive about the way the game is going. We have come through COVID and Brexit and everything is hard work surviving and if people are looking at bringing in more revenue in that is important because we can’t cover costs anymore. We need new income streams – absolutely.
“This competition looks really positive and it is not every year and the biggest issue for the players is that wages have gone down. That is why we have to look at ways of bringing new money in.”

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