OPINION: Potential Club Rugby World Cup could have serious implications on Munster

It has been revealed that there is a plan to overhaul the global rugby calander with the introduction of an annual Club World Cup.

A proposal is to be put forward by French Federation President Bernard Laporte for a twenty team tournament featuring teams from around the globe.

Laporte’s proposal which he outlined in an interview with French Newspaper Midi Olympique, will see the cancellation of the Champions Cup to accommodate the Club World Cup.

REPRO FREE***PRESS RELEASE NO REPRODUCTION FEE*** EDITORIAL USE ONLY 2019-2020 EPCR European Rugby Heineken Champions Cup & European Rugby Challenge Cup Pool Draws, Centre de Congrès Beaulieu, Lausanne, Switzerland 19/6/2018 A view of the Heineken Champions Cup and European Rugby Challenge Cup ahead of today’s draw Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

The CWC would be held very year outside of the World Cup Years. Despite being a club competition, it is to be run by World Rugby.

The organisers of the Champions Cup, the EPCR, confirmed that talks had been held to discuss the new competition.

“Discussions have already taken place on an official level between EPCR and its shareholders regarding a global club tournament which could complement the Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup and which could take place once every four years. Work on possible formats is ongoing with a collaborative approach and issues of player welfare to the fore.

“EPCR does not believe it appropriate to highlight such discussions while the public health crisis due to COVID-19 continues, and currently, the organisation’s focus is on attempting to reschedule the knockout stages of the 2019/20 tournaments subject to government and local authority directives.”

Llaporte’s suggested makeup of the competition would see four teams from the Premiership, the Top 14, the Pro14 as well as six from Super Rugby and one from each of the US an Japan.

The implementation of a Club Rugby World Cup would have serious implications on Munster.

Firstly, under Laporte’s proposed structure, there will only be six Pro 14 clubs permitted to enter, which is a reduction on the seven that qualify for the Champions Cup.

While Munster should always find themselves in the Top six teams in the Pro 14, there would be that added bit of pressure.

It may become harder to attract players from the southern Hemisphere as they would now be competing against Super Rugby teams.

The signings of Damien De Allende and RG Snyman would have proven far more complicated if they were joining a team that would be in direct opposition to their former squad.

After making great strides in the Champions Cup in recent years, prior to this campaign of course, I’m sure the Province would relish another year in the European format with the new South African additions as well as that of Matt Galagher from Saracens.

However, the logistics of the competition are yet to be seen. While the Munster fanbase has become renowned worldwide, would supporters have the funds to travel across the world a couple of times a year, or for the knockout stages, wherever they are to be held.

Heineken Champions Cup Round 6, Thomond Park, Limerick, Co. Limerick 19/1/2020 Munster vs Ospreys Munster’s Niall Scannell makes his way onto the field Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

On the flip side, such a move could prove financially beneficial to Munster and the other provinces.

Nonetheless, Munster’s cup prowess should see them become stalwarts. The implications on other Irish provinces, namely Connacht are far more concerning.

Assuming the three other Irish Provinces qualify, Connacht would then have to finish higher than two of Edinburgh, Glasgow Warriors, the Ospreys or the Scarlets.

Not only will these plans implicate the Club scene but there is a chance that a Nations Championship may be introduced with Laporte a known fan of the concept.

This 12-team tournament was abandoned when the Six Nations’ Nations were unable to agree on a relegation and promotion structure. However, with the recent financial implications of the coronavirus, the Nations Championship may be pushed once more with £5bn promised to Nations.

It is unknown what the effect will be regarding the current Six Nations with CVC proposing a lucrative deal with the annual championships.

2020 Guinness Six Nations Championship Round 1, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Rd, Co. Dublin 1/2/2020 Ireland vs Scotland Ireland’s Jonathan Sexton crosses the line to scoring a try Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

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