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Bernard Laporte wants an annual Club World Cup instead of the Champions Cup

The French Rugby Federation president says ‘it could be a breath of fresh air for the whole of world rugby.’

FRENCH RUGBY FEDERATION president Bernard Laporte wants to see an annual Club World Cup launched, with the current Champions Cup in Europe making way.

The former France head coach told Midi Olympique that he has been discussing the idea with World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont.

Laporte is hopeful of becoming the new World Rugby vice-chairman to Beaumont when the Englishman seeks re-election next month.

bernard-laporte-celebrates-with-the-trophy Laporte won three European Cups as head coach of Toulon. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Laporte’s plan involves an annual 20-team Club World Cup played out over the course of six match weekends and he believes it would result in far greater financial gain than is currently the case with the Champions Cup.

The 20 teams would be divided into four groups of five teams, with quarter-finals, semi-finals and a grand final following the pool stages.

Laporte’s suggestion is that four teams from the Top 14, four from the English Premiership, four from the Pro14, six from Super Rugby, as well as the champions of the leagues in the US and Japan, would qualify each year.

The former Toulon boss’s proposal is that the Club World Cup would take place in late June and July, essentially kicking off the rugby season after the entire sport takes a break from the end of May through to the end of June.

Laporte suggests that the regular Northern Hemisphere club leagues then take place in August and September, while the Rugby Championship is played by the Southern Hemisphere nations at the same time.

From there, he proposes that October and November are dedicated to international Tests in both Europe and the Southern Hemisphere.

December and January would see the Northern Hemisphere club leagues start up again as the Southern Hemisphere game takes a break.

February and March would be Six Nations time in the North, with Super Rugby in action down South, with the club championships continuing through April and May in both hemispheres before another break around the world in June.

Midol Source: Midi Olympique

In all of this, Laporte feels the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup competitions would be squeezed out of the picture.

“The European Cup is magnificent, I was able to lift the trophy three times with Toulon and I know what it can represent,” Laporte told Midi Olympique

“But let’s be frank, it doesn’t generate enough income. If we want to develop this Club World Cup, we have to find dates. Without the Champions Cup, there are nine weekends freed up.”

Laporte says he has also spoken to RFU CEO Bill Sweeney and the Top 14 clubs about his idea and that “all of them are excited by this project.”

It would, obviously, be far less welcome in other places like Ireland, where the European Cup is a major part of the annual rugby calendar. The extreme lack of detail in his proposal would also be a major concern.

“This is only a proposal,” Laporte stressed. “But I’m 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. This crisis must push us to be innovative. Let’s make this new competition, I’m sure that the public and television will follow.”

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Murray Kinsella

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