Baxter warns of financial issues that could follow

A club World Cup could cause more financial issues for Premiership clubs, says Exeter Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter.

The first rugby club World Cup is set to take place in 2028, as first reported by the Guardian. It would see clubs from around the world play one another to compete for a trophy. It is understood 16 teams would take part; eight from Champions Cup pool stage, six from Super Rugby and two from Japan’s top league.

Read more: Premiership financial issues

It is set to be held in the northern hemisphere but Baxter warns if there is not proper financial reward that comes with the competition is could create new problems for clubs.

“It is something that seems to have been mooted for three or four years,” Baxter said. “If someone says to me in four years they have got the finances in place, they will cover everyone’s travel costs, and there is a TV deal and all the clubs involved in it will get millions of pounds, and it helps all the clubs be viable businesses, I would say it is exactly what the game needs.

“If as what normally happens, and it’s (a case of) let’s try and give it a go, let’s see if we can make this work and get some interest, I would be very hesitant about it because you can very easily create bigger issues in the game trying to solve issues as we have seen numerous times. Let’s make sure it is genuinely viable before we start adding more competitions, games, and travel costs etc. etc.

“Clubs in this country can’t take the approach that, if we do it, it will grow.”

Premiership clubs had a collective loss of £25m in the last financial year. In recent years Worcester Warriors, London Irish and Wasps have gone into administration because of financial issues.

Baxter added clubs already have the financial burden that comes with European competitions.

“The desire to try it and see what it is like – and there is nothing negative about interesting games of rugby – is completely different to trying to make it a realistic situation,” he said.

“If you look at things now, we’re in a European competition, and the costs for us, literally overnight, from Sunday knowing the result (in the Round of 16 against Bath) to trying to book a plane to get over there to France, and we are only taking the smallest plane we can, our costs are going to be in the 10s of thousands of pounds.

“Take the reality of that and make it a world competition and you go, as much as we all might want to do it, you have to have to be able to afford to do it.”

Download the digital edition of Rugby World straight to your tablet or subscribe to the print edition to get the magazine delivered to your door.

Follow Rugby World on FacebookInstagram and Twitter/X.