EPCR Chairman Dominic McKay has explained that talks over a potential global club tournament are still ongoing and that it “needs to be right for everybody”.
The potential competition would see leading Northern Hemisphere teams take on those from the Southern Hemisphere.
Speaking at this week’s season launch, McKay said he is “optimistic” about the plans being realised, but insisted that plenty more discussions need to take place before anything is agreed.
“Rugby is littered with great ideas that never get to fruition,” he pointed out. “We’re engaging really aggressively at the moment with our colleagues and all of our stakeholders to look at it.
“We’re interested in it; we’re excited about the concept. But it needs to be right for everybody.
“At the moment we’re in discussions with our colleagues in the Southern Hemisphere and we’re in discussions with our colleagues in the North.
“There’s nothing exciting worth talking about right now, other than I think it would be an incredible competition.
“The idea of having the best of the Southern Hemisphere playing against the best of the Northern Hemisphere would be a great game to watch.
“We’re working hard behind the scenes to try and find if the plan can come to fruition, but it’s certainly a long topic of conversion and that’s natural.”
Season launch day 😍🎥
The #HeinekenChampionsCup stars are in town as the new campaign looms 🤩 pic.twitter.com/x9OSqntH1I
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) November 29, 2022
McKay also reiterated how the addition of five South African clubs across this season’s Heineken Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup fits into EPCR’s refreshed strategy, a “cornerstone” of which, he stated, is “growing our sport and growing our competitions”.
“We have a new strategy as a board and that strategy is around aligning with our leagues and our unions, making sure that we think smartly about the brand and improve that,” he said.
“And then also making sure the format of our tournament is right for the future, listening to our supporters and our players and our coaches.
“The South Africans coming in ticks all these boxes and we’re excited about seeing how they slot in.”
SuperSport is set to front up the South African coverage of the five debutants and McKay highlighted how that aspect is key to broadening the EPCR competitions’ fanbase.
“There will be incredible match-ups, I’m sure, and we’re very excited about the new audience that will bring in,” he said.
“For example, SuperSport are the host broadcaster for the South African games and cover not only South Africa, but the whole of sub-Saharan Africa.
“They are the main sports broadcaster in an enormous territory, so many multiples of millions will be tuning in to watch the Heineken Champions Cup and the EPCR Challenge Cup.
“That’s going to be great to for our sport as we look to expand and grow into new markets, but also it will be outstanding for our broadcasters in France and the UK and Ireland, to see the new experience of South African clubs challenging their best.”