Reports emerged this year of a World Club Championship – or ‘Club World Cup’ – that would bring together the planet’s top 16 teams in a competition to be staged every four years.
Under the blueprint, revealed by The Telegraph, the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-finalists would qualify from the northern hemisphere, along with seven teams from the southern hemisphere’s Super Rugby tournament and one from Japan. The new competition would replace the knockout stages of the Champions Cup and would begin in 2024 or 2025.
The proposal provides the context to this debate that appeared in our October 2022 issue…
Face-off: Is a World Club Championship a good idea?
YES, says the Fijian Drua chief executive and co-author of Unholy Union
“I’m not sure a Club World Cup is agreed, but with that caveat the good thing about it is it taps into the current year. You qualify for it for what you do in this season.
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’s a really good thing for the fan if the competition links to how they are doing that year.
It would be quite difficult not to qualify out of Super Rugby, with seven of them progressing (out of 12), and there is the question of where they are going to play all the games? In the news reports, 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. If an extra weekend was needed, that would have to be found from somewhere, but 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. That would be better for player welfare. 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.”
NO, says the chairman of Exeter Chiefs Supporters’ Club
“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.
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 Club 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 Cups for a year (so teams could play in a Club World Cup) 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 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. People like one or two trips to Europe a season, but I don’t think this would be welcomed by supporters I know.
The players having to go away and play the next weekend would be tough; it’s tough on the South African players in the URC (United Rugby Championship) already. They have so much travelling and that is not good for them.”
Face-off: Is a World Club Championship a good idea? We want to know what YOU think. Email your views to rugbyworldletters@futurenet
This debate first appeared in the October 2022 issue of Rugby World