Club World Cup plans spell trouble for South Africa teams
SPOTLIGHT: Plans for a club World Cup, every four years but not before 2024, are “progressing very nicely”, according to Vincent Gaillard, head of the body that organises European Cup rugby.
“The project is progressing really very nicely, even if the political environment is never simple,” Gaillard, CEO of European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR), told AFP.
“It is moving forward in consultation with all interested stakeholders, including the southern hemisphere countries and World Rugby.”
Gaillard added: “It’s advancing, still on the principle that the EPCR represents the interests of the northern hemisphere, based on a four-yearly format and with a date for the first tournament yet to be decided but not before 2024.”
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Launched by Bernard Laporte, president of the French rugby federation, during his successful campaign to be named World Rugby vice-president, the club World Cup aims to bring together the eight best teams from the two hemispheres.
Gaillard added that a new deal had been signed between EPCR and federations guaranteeing European Cups through until at least 2030.
“It’s very good news,” Gaillard said, adding that next season’s format for the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup will likely be 24 teams divided into two pools of 12.
But he warned that South African franchises would not be part of the elite competition.
“There will be no South African clubs in the European Cup next season, that’s for sure,” Gaillard said.
“In the Challenge Cup, theoretically, it is possible. We are looking at the possibility, but it is quite unlikely. There are details to settle, especially at the Pro 16 level.”