The man bidding to become World Rugby's vice-chairman next month has unveiled radical plans for a Club World Cup league featuring 20 teams from around the globe.

French Rugby Federation president Bernard Laporte, who is seeking to be the next World Rugby vice-chairman, told Midi Olympique of his plans to develop the six-week club competition which would be held annually and involve scrapping Europe's prestigious Champions Cup.

Under Laporte's proposal, six teams would qualify from Super Rugby, four teams each from England, France and the Pro14 competitions. League champions from Japan and the United States would also be inculded.

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Based on last year's Super Rugby standings the Crusaders, Hurricanes, Jaguares, Brumbies, Bulls and Sharks would join the competition.

The format for the global club competition would replicate the Rugby World Cup, with 20 teams split into four pools of five, followed by quarter-finals, semis and a final.

Similar combined club hemisphere proposals have previously been touted as private investment companies such as CVC Capital Partners circle the professional game.

Laporte's proposal has one main objective: to maximise revenue.

"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."

Bernard Laporte. Photo / Photosport
Bernard Laporte. Photo / Photosport

At the World Rugby Council meeting next month, Laporte will be running alongside Bill Beaumont, who is seeking re-election as chairman.

Argentina's World Rugby vice-chairman, Agustin Pichot, is expected to run against Beaumont for the top job.

Beaumont and Laporte will this week distribute their manifest at a time when the economic viability of the game is being threatened by the coronavirus shutdown.


"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."

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Laporte told Midi Olympique he has discussed the proposal with England's RFU chief executive, Bill Sweeney, along with the presidents of Top 14 clubs in France.

"All are excited by such a project," Laporte enthused. "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."

Laporte's proposal is, however, likely to face stiff opposition from the powerful European clubs who are yet to be consulted. Many will fear missing out on the riches it could provide, with this proposal furthering the rugby world of the have and have nots.

There would also be concerns about the competitiveness of America's Major League Rugby champions who are likely to be well out of their depth against other leading clubs.

European Club Rugby (EPCR), organisers of the Champions Cup, were quick to pour cold water on Laporte's plans, suggesting a global club tournament would instead be staged "once every four years".

"EPCR has noted today's media reports regarding a proposal for an annual Club World Cup," the statement read.

"Discussions have already taken place on an official level between EPCR and its shareholders regarding a global club tournament which could complement the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup and which could take place once every four years.

"Work on possible formats is on-going 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."