South Africa’s entry into the Champions Cup through the United Rugby Championship could reportedly be a key element in realising a Club World Cup from 2024.
Subject to the finalisation of contract terms with EPCR, the four South African teams taking place in the URC – the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers – will be eligible to qualify for the Champions Cup from the 2022-23 season.
This comes after the the new-look URC competition was officially unveiled on Tuesday, with the four South African teams officially moving north to compete with the pre-existing PRO14 teams.
According to a report in the Telegraph, the next step in the global club rugby restructure would be to implement a Club World Cup, which would pit the best clubs from the northern and southern hemisphere against each other every four years.
The central idea is that the eight teams in the Champions Cup quarter-final in the 2023-24 season would face the best eight teams from the southern hemisphere in a knockout tournament.
There are still logistical issues to overcome, particularly as the future of Super Rugby is yet to be resolved. The tournament could feature New Zealand, Australian and Pacific Island teams in the future. However, there is still the question as to how best to integrate the clubs from Japan’s Top League into the Club World Cup.
EPCR chariman Simon Halliday, who is driving the idea of the Club World Cup, told the Telegraphthat they are looking at implementing it in 2024.
‘A big question mark was always how would the South African teams fit in because they were marooned between competitions. Now they have that pathway so we can have the best of the best playing each other,’ Halliday said.
‘The current discussion is let’s look at it for 2024. We wanted to get in on the table in 2022 but the question was where does that leave South Africa? Would we issue special invites to them? If South African franchises were not involved then the tournament would lack credibility. What you have now is a growing sense of momentum to allow those discussions to go to the next level.’
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