EPRC spits dummy over Laporte's proposal
REACTION: European Professional Club Rugby has reacted with dismay to the proposal of a new Club World Cup.
French Rugby Federation President Bernard Laporte, who is running as vice-chairman of World Rugby at their May 13 elections, is looking to use his proposed Club World Cup as his ticket to becoming Chairman Bill Beaumont’s second-in-charge.
Laporte wants his club tournament to replace the EPRC’s European Champions Cup.
The EPCR said discussions have already taken place on an ‘official level’ between regarding a global club tournament.
However, their version would “complement” the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup competitions and only take place once “every four years”.
“Work on possible formats is ongoing with a collaborative approach and issues of player welfare to the fore,” EPRC said in a statement.
The European body added that they do not believe it appropriate to highlight such discussions while the public health crisis due to COVID-19 continues.
Laporte’s proposal caused quite a stir among the European unions – who jealously guard their control of the purse strings in the Northern Hemisphere.
“Let’s be frank: it does not generate enough income,” Laporte told French rugby newspaper Midi Olympique, when he explained why his tournament should replace the Champions Cup.
“World Rugby must create a world cup for professional clubs that would take place every year, outside the traditional World Cup windows,” Laporte said.
(Continue reading below …)
He said the format would duplicate existing tournaments.
“We can take as a basis for our work what currently exists at World Cup level: 20 teams divided into four pools of five and a final phase with quarterfinal, semifinal and [a] Final,” Laporte said.
“The whole thing would have to be condensed into six weeks.”
Laporte said he “can well imagine seeing the semifinalists of the Top 14, those of the English championship, the top six in Super Rugby, the top four in the Pro14, the Japanese champion and the United States champion, for example, qualifying.”
“We have to create this competition and very quickly. It could be a breath of fresh air for the whole of world rugby,” said Laporte.
Laporte, who coached Toulon to three Champions Cup titles said the competition “would have to disappear, that’s for sure, if we don’t want to overload the calendar a bit more.”
“This European competition is magnificent, with Toulon I’ve been able to lift the trophy three times and I know what it can represent,” he said, before bemoaning its financial limitations.
“Without the Champions Cup, nine weekends will become available.”
The newspaper calculated that such a competition could bring in between €300- and €500-million per year.
Also read: Club World Cup is the new cash cow