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Club World Cup on way as part of rugby’s Champions Cup shake-up


Leinster in Champions Cup action earlier this year

Leinster in Champions Cup action earlier this year

Leinster in Champions Cup action earlier this year

A new Club World Cup could get underway in less than three years' time, with outgoing European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) chairman Simon Halliday shedding light on the proposal today.

Halliday says the competition would replace the knockout stages of the Heineken Champions Cup once every four years and take place in June, beginning in the 2023/24 season.

“We’ve been talking for months with the southern hemisphere about the Club World Cup and they are very keen,” Halliday told the London Times. “In the meantime, we’ve agreed that it can’t be extra rugby and it has to be in place of something else. What we’ve agreed is that in 2024 when you hit the quarter-final stage of the Heineken Champions Cup, the top eight teams will play instead in a Club World Cup.

“The structure has been determined and it will be played in the final weeks of June. Normally you’ve got the finals of the Gallagher Premiership, United Rugby Championship (URC) and Top 14 then."

“That year everyone will bring their finals forward and we’ll go into a Club World Cup through the month of June in 2024 and then every four years after that.

In the meantime, EPCR will press ahead with a reduced pool stage and more knockout games after deeming last season's re-jigged format a success.

This season, clubs will play four pool games, before a two-legged round of 16, one-legged quarter-finals, semi-finals and the final.

Halliday has spent six and a half years at the helm and having overseen the signing of an eight-year arrangement between the clubs and unions, will step away from the role.

"From this new agreement, we are now working on the participation of the South African provinces and building towards a Club World Cup every four years which would replace the latter stages of the Heineken Champions Cup," he said in a statement.

"Together with our improved formats, reduced pool matches and more knockout rugby, EPCR is in a great position to grow.

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"Our newly formed Board is superbly well-equipped and structured to deliver on this growth and I wish them every success."

EPCR is on the look out for a new chief executive after Vincent Gaillard departed earlier this year. Anthony Lepage is currently in charge on an interim basis having previously worked as the administration and finance director.

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