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'I'm a big fan': Kiss throws weight behind Club World Cup as Europe and Super Rugby agree to new tournament

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9th April, 2024
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Queensland head coach Les Kiss has thrown his weight behind a touted Club World Cup, as the concept moved closer to sign-off.

Reports surfaced overnight that the creation of the Club World Cup moved one giant step closer after European executives signed an initial agreement to start the competition in 2028.

The mooted competition isn’t necessarily new, but hitherto European heavyweights have put roadblocks up to get the tournament up and running.

That has seemingly changed in recent months, with the Investec Champions Cup, European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR), the northern hemisphere and South African clubs agreeing on key principles with their southern hemisphere counterparts so it can begin in four years’ time.

Stade Rochelais player Will Skelton celebrates on the final whistle during the Heineken Champions Cup Final between Leinster Rugby and Stade Rochelais at Aviva Stadium on May 20, 2023 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

European and Super Rugby officials have reportedly agreed to a new Club World Cup. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

One of the challenges in getting the tournament up and running is the packed domestic and international calendar. It still is the biggest obstacle standing in the way.

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But insiders suggest the Investec Champions Cup would do away with the latter stages of the competition every four years to accommodate the Club World Cup.

Instead, rather than there being a champion that season, the quarter-finalists would qualify for the Club World Cup.

As it stands this year, Bordeaux, Harlequins, Leinster, La Rochelle, Northampton, Bulls, Toulouse and Exeter would qualify, with the rest of the sides who missed the quarter-finals to play in a Super Club Challenge Cup.

The top eight would play against the six top-ranked Super Rugby Pacific teams, with another two sides, firming to be from Japan, to make up the 16-team competition.

The competition would take place over a four-week period in June, with a round of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals and a final.

Competitions across the globe, including the Gallagher Premiership, Top 14 and United Rugby Championship, would finish in May to make room for the competition under the proposed plans.

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Toulouse and La Rochelle are destined to play teams from Super Rugby under proposed Club World Cup plans. (Photo by Christian Liewig – Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)

The Super Rugby competition, which typically finishes at the end of June, would also have to start earlier in 2028 to be aligned with the clubs in the north.

Should it go ahead, Super Rugby would likely start at the end of January or first weekend of February.

Japan’s League One competition currently finishes in May.

Executives are brimming with excitement about the concept because of the commercial revenue – broadcast and ticket – it promises to attract.

First-year Reds coach Kiss, who previously served under Joe Schmidt as an assistant with the Irish national team before working at Ulster and London Irish, added that the competition would benefit Australian rugby because it would expose their players to other styles of the game.

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“Personally, the more exposure of those high-level games with teams playing differently (the better),” he said on Tuesday.

“I think they’re exciting opportunities.

“If we can make it fit into the calendar and at the right time, I’m a big fan.

Queensland Reds head coach Les Kiss says he likes the idea of a Club World Cup. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

“One of the great things that you do in the northern hemisphere rugby is the variety of games and style of play from people from different countries and people, who learn the game through a different lens, how they approach the set-piece, the kicking game, the attacking game, or how they approach the breakdown.

“All of those things are important for young rugby players to experience and the more that we can experience it as Australian players, the better that we will be on the international scene as well.”

SANZAAR has taken a back seat in the negotiations, with Rugby Australia and New Zealand Rugby driving the conversation.

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Following the departure of South African representation from Super Rugby, the Club World Cup would be a chance for a renewed focus on the competition in the south which was once the envy of the world.

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