Dominic McKay, the chairperson of the European Professional Club Rugby. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
European rugby chiefs refused to put a deadline on agreement for the creation of a Club World Cup, but remain hopeful the groundbreaking plan will get off the ground.
Proposals for a 16-team competition featuring eight sides from the northern hemisphere, seven from the south and one Japanese club have received public backing from unions and leagues.
“Rugby is littered with great ideas that never come to fruition but I’m optimistic that we’re making good progress,” European Professional Club Rugby chairperson, Dominic McKay, said on Wednesday.
European club rugby is already set for a revolution this season with the addition of South African sides, who play in the United Rugby Championship, to the Champions and Challenge Cup for the first time.
“We won’t be definitive on a timeline because that creates undue expectation, but we have to keep working away like we did on the South African sides working their way into Europe,” added McKay.
“That was a really important project for us over the last nine months and we’re delighted that’s come to fruition. The next project is the concept of a world club challenge.”
Some French clubs are reportedly unconvinced by the presence of the Sharks, Stormers, Bulls, Lions and Cheetahs in European competition with the logistics surrounding away fixtures the primary concern.
McKay confirmed that finals would continue to be staged only in established rugby nations, ruling out a destination final such as Barcelona, but is open to one being held in South Africa at some point in the future.