Club World Cup is not a done deal
REACTION: England chief Bill Sweeney gave his backing to a proposed club World Cup that he said would “heighten excitement” around the sport.
The Rugby Football Union Chief Executive said under the current plan, the tournament would launch in 2025 with four pools of four teams, featuring eight sides from the Northern Hemisphere, seven from the Southern Hemisphere and one from Japan.
It would take place once every four years and sit in the same window as European club fixtures to avoid the calendar becoming too congested.
Previous schemes have failed to get off the drawing board and Sweeney urged caution, saying there was still a “long way to go”.
“It’s not a completely done deal yet, but in terms of direction as a union we certainly support it and the clubs are very keen to get it done,” he said.
Sweeney said there had been a buzz around clashes between northern and southern hemisphere nations in recent weeks.
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Ireland made history last week by sealing a series win in New Zealand while Eddie Jones’s England triumphed in Australia. Wales lost their series against South Africa while Argentina came out on top against Scotland.
Sweeney compared the situation to the Ryder Cup, the golf team competition between the United States and Europe that takes place every two years.
“This summer there was a lot of talk around the north-south rivalry, there was almost a Ryder Cup situation towards the end there, in terms of was it going to be 6-6 or would the north win all of those final matches on the final weekend?” he said.
“There seems to be more conversation around that and (the Club World Cup) just adds to that in terms of who has the best clubs in the world, the best club set-up. Is it the north or the south?”
A spokesman for European Professional Club Rugby, the organisers of the elite Champions Cup and second-tier Challenge Cup, told AFP: “We can confirm that positive talks are ongoing between all parties regarding a proposal for a Club World Cup.”
He said EPCR would not be making any further comments.