Bernard Laporte, the president of the French Rugby Federation, revealed in an interview with Midi Olympique that he has plans for a six-week club competition to be held every year, featuring 20 teams from around the world.
The radical new proposals to boost rugby’s finances with the introduction of an annual Club World Cup could spell the end of the Heineken Champions Cup.
Laporte is aiming to become vice-chairman of World Rugby next month and said space would be made in the calendar by removing the European club competitions, which Laporte feels do not generate enough money.
“The European competition is magnificent, with Toulon [as head coach] I was able to lift the trophy three times and I know what it can represent,” Laporte said. “But let’s be frank, it does not generate enough income. If we want to develop this Club World Cup, we have to find dates. Without the Champions Cup, nine weekends are available.”
At the World Rugby Council meeting next month, Laporte will be running alongside Bill Beaumont, who is seeking re-election as chairman, and they will distribute their manifesto this week at a time when the economic viability of the game worldwide is being threatened by the coronavirus shutdown.
Six teams would qualify from Super Rugby, four teams each from England, France and the Pro14 competitions, plus the league champions from Japan and the United States.
“This is only a proposal,” Laporte said, “but I am sure of one thing: we must create this competition and very quickly. It could be a breath of fresh air for the whole of world rugby.”
Laporte told Midi Olympique that he has discussed the proposal with Bill Sweeney, the RFU chief executive, along with the presidents of Top 14 clubs in France. “All are excited by such a project,” Laporte said. “The goal of my approach is to find the income that will allow [unions] to finance both the professional and amateur world. This crisis must push us to be innovative. Let’s make this new competition. I am sure that the public and television will follow.”