International Rugby
Toulon to propose world club championship?
ESPN Staff
July 24, 2013
Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal and mayor Hubert Falco lift the Heineken Cup on their return home following their victory over Clermont Auvergne, Toulon-Hyeres airport, Toulon, May 19, 2013
Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal saw his side claim the Heineken Cup crown last season © Getty Images

Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal is set to unveil his plans for a world club championship clash between his Heineken Cup winning side and the winners of this year's Super Rugby competition.

Boudjellal, who has bank-rolled Toulon's rise to the top of the European game that culminated with victory in last season's Heineken Cup finale against Clermont Auvergne, intends to propose a fixture against the side that claims this year's southern hemisphere crown with the Bulls set to tackle the Brumbies and the Chiefs poised to play host to the Crusaders in this weekend's semi-finals.

Boudjellal revealed to Sud Ouest earlier this week that he hopes to make an announcement on Thursday about the "World Cup of Clubs". The comic book millionaire told the newspaper that he had, "put the name of "World Cup of Rugby Clubs" to INPI (French Nation Industrial Property Institute) you imagine it does not exist .. "

He added: "We will try create this match on an economical model that will benefit both clubs - especially the players."

However, his plans are in danger of being dashed before they have been confirmed with Jean-Pierre Lux, president of European Rugby Cup Ltd, the organisers of the Heineken Cup, labelling it an 'impossible project' and hinting any such fixture this year would have to be unofficial. In addition, Bernard Lapasset, chairman of the International Rugby Board, has revealed he has 'received more than one hundred' similar proposals.

"Under the terms of the European Rugby Cup participation agreement that they signed before the competition, the clubs do not have the right to play such a game as European champions especially against the winners of the Super 15, it is stated in the agreement," said Lux.

"I totally understand that he wanted to do something, but Mr. Boudjellal does not have the latitude to organise such a game," added Lux, who is adamant that even friendly between two teams from different countries cannot be staged without the approval of the ERC and their southern hemisphere counterparts SANZAR.

"It's a good idea," said Lux. "We have long been in discussion with SANZAR to set up a match like this but it faces the problem of the calendar. The Rugby Championship begins two weeks after the final of the Super 15 and I do not see the New Zealand Rugby Union, for example, allowing a third of its internationals to go play a game in Europe on the eve of the Rugby Championship."

The conflict between the northern and southern hemisphere seasons has long proved a barrier to the staging of a world club championship game, with the confusion regarding the long-term future of the Heineken Cup clouding the issue yet further, but a proposal for a more co-ordinated calendar unveiled earlier this month may provide fresh impetus.

The International Rugby Players' Association are behind a plan that will see the northern hemisphere domestic season and Super Rugby culminate at the same time of the year ahead of a new home for the mid-year international window in July. It is hoped that the plan can be implemented in 2016 although it is unclear if it would provide sufficient leeway for a 'battle of the hemispheres'.

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