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The Crusaders look like getting a crack at defending their Super Rugby Aotearoa crown in 2021.
European Professional Club Rugby chief executive Vincent Gaillard gave a positive outlook for the proposed tournament that would likely feature the eight quarterfinalists from Europe’s Champions Cup taking on the eight best teams from Super Rugby every four years.
Just how the Super Rugby format works moving forward remains anyone’s guess as the Sanzaar alliance looks to have agreed to new directions with South Africa seemingly on the outer in plans by New Zealand.
But there seems a genuine appetite in the north to play an inter-hemisphere club spectacle.
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“We have some basic principles, that it is played every four years to keep a rare and exclusive format. More than that, it devalues the product,” Gaillard told the AFP news agency of the Club World Cup.
“We’ll probably play in the same period, probably a bit tighter, on consecutive weekends. But it’s still early.
“We’re advancing. There’s a unanimous agreement among our board that it’s the EPCR that carries it.”
Crusaders boss Colin Mansbridge last week told Stuff he was optimistic of cross-over matches with Australian sides at the back end of next year, and matches with European teams further down the track.
“Covid will pass, and when Covid passes and borders open again, and they will open again and trade will pick up again and people will want to connect and do business. I think there is a real opportunity for a tight, well-run localised comps, feeding into European style championships, and then the next natural step is something global.”
There has long been a desire to match the best club teams from both hemispheres against each other but the differing seasons and an overload of matches have prevented it.
Super Rugby Aotearoa promo.
Playing the club tournament every four years would allow the game’s hierarchy to time it to avoid clashes with the Rugby World Cup, the sport’s premier event.
Football holds a Club World Cup on an annual basis, bringing together the champion teams from their various confederations.