European rugby officials refused to set a deadline for reaching an agreement on the creation of a Club World Cup, but they remain optimistic that the ground-breaking plan will be implemented.
Unions and leagues have publicly supported proposals for a 16-team competition featuring eight sides from the northern hemisphere, seven from the southern hemisphere, and one Japanese club.
“Rugby is littered with great ideas that never come to fruition, but I’m optimistic that we’re making good progress,” Dominic McKay, chairperson of European Professional Club Rugby, said on Wednesday.
With the addition of South African sides from the United Rugby Championship to the Champions and Challenge Cup for the first time this season, European club rugby is already set for a revolution.
“We won’t be definitive on a timeline because it creates undue expectation,” McKay added. “But we have to keep working away like we did on the South African sides working their way into Europe.”
“That was a huge project for us over the last nine months, and we’re thrilled it’s finally finished. The concept of a world club challenge is the next project.”
Some French clubs are reportedly unconvinced by the presence of the Sharks, Stormers, Bulls, Lions, and Cheetahs in European competition, citing logistical concerns.
McKay confirmed that finals would continue to be held only in established rugby nations, ruling out a destination final such as Barcelona, but is open to a future final being held in South Africa.