French Rugby Federation president Bernard Laporte wants World Rugby to create a Club World Cup to replace the European Champions Cup, he said in an interview published Monday.
“Let’s be frank: it (the Champions Cup) does not generate enough income,” Laporte told French rugby newspaper Midi Olympique.
Former France coach Laporte is running for the vice-presidency of World Rugby, the global governing body, with elections due on May 13.
“World Rugby must create a World Cup for professional clubs that would take place every year, outside the traditional Rugby World Cup windows,” insisted Laporte.
He said the format would duplicate that of the World Cup, played every four years, with South Africa winning the 2019 edition in Japan.
“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 quarter-final, semi-final and final matches,” Laporte explained.
“The whole thing would have to be condensed into six weeks.”
Laporte said he “can well imagine seeing the semi-finalists of the (French) Top 14, those of the English championship, the top six in Super Rugby, the top four in the Celtic league, the Japanese champion and the US 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, with Midi Olympique calculating it could bring in between 300-500 million euros ($323-539m) per year.
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.”
European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR), the Champions Cup organisers, responded Monday by saying they had already talked to their shareholders about a global event every four years that would “complement” their flagship tournament and the second-tier European Challenge Cup.
But with rugby worldwide suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak, EPCR added it “does not believe it appropriate to highlight such discussions while the public health crisis due to COVID-19 continues”, insisting its “focus is on attempting to reschedule the knockout stages of the 2019/20 tournaments subject to government and local authority directives”.