New club Rugby World Cup to start in 2025 after format is agreed
The blueprint for a new ‘Club World Cup’ is understood to have been agreed with a tournament involving the top 16 sides from the northern and southern hemispheres scheduled to start in 2025.
Under the bold proposals eight northern hemisphere clubs and seven from the southern hemisphere, plus a Japanese side, would be placed in four pools, each playing two matches against teams from the other hemisphere. The winner of each pool would progress to the semi-finals ahead of a final to crown the best club side in the world.
The competition, which would take place instead of the knockout rounds of the Champions Cup and see the English Premiership final brought forward to early May, would happen once every four years ahead of a Lions tour.
The format is understood to have been endorsed by key stakeholders, including Premiership Rugby and representatives of players. Discussions have now moved into the final stage, with talks including due diligence, commercials, and detailed travel plans expected to be concluded in September.
It is hoped that the prospect of the likes of Leicester, Saracens, Exeter, Leinster, Munster, Toulouse and La Rochelle taking on the Crusaders, Hurricanes and Reds will drive interest in the club game to a new level and provide a much-needed financial boost following the impact of the global pandemic.