Rob Baxter: Exeter Chiefs boss wary of new world club competition plans

Home » Rob Baxter: Exeter Chiefs boss wary of new world club competition plans

Exeter boss Rob Baxter says plans for a new club world championship have to be viable for the sides that take part.

Plans for eight sides from Europe to face six teams from Super Rugby and two from Japan’s Rugby League One have been mooted for June 2028.

They come as English clubs try to recover from tough financial times brought on in part by Covid-19.

Reports say the format of the Champions Cup could be changed to make room in the calendar for the new event.

“If someone says to me that in four years time they’ve got the finances in place that cover everyone’s travel costs and there’s a TV deal that means all the clubs involved in it get millions of pounds, and it helps all the clubs be viable, thriving businesses, I would say it’s exactly what the game needs,” Baxter, Exeter’s director of rugby, said.

“If what, as normal happens, is, ‘Let’s try and give it a go and see if we can make it work and see if we can create some interest,’ I would be very hesitant about it because you can very easily create bigger issues in the game trying to solve issues, as we have seen numerous times.”

Baxter led his side to the 2020 Champions Cup title and they have reached the last eight in three of the four subsequent campaigns. They travel to France on Sunday to face Toulouse in this year’s quarter-finals.

But he said things such as travel must be sorted to everyone’s satisfaction before the event starts, with the prospect of travelling to places like New Zealand a lot tougher on athletes than trips to South Africa that clubs currently have to do in the Champions Cup.

“We’re in a European competition now and the costs for us literally overnight from Sunday knowing the result in France, to trying to find a plane, trying to get over – and we’re taking the smallest plane we can – our costs are going to be in the tens and tens of thousands pounds,” Baxter said.

“That’s just now, and that’s within a European competition. Take the reality of that and make it a world competition and go, ‘Right, we’re going to have a look at this and this is the funding that’s in place and this is what might happen’ – as much we all might want to do it, you do actually have to be able to afford to do it.

“There’s nothing negative about interesting games of rugby, that’s what everybody wants.

“But at the same time we have to make sure that everybody else wants to watch it and everybody else wants to be involved in it, not just the players and the coaches.”


Plans for a World Club Championship are gathering pace, with a first edition of the tournament set to take place in 2028.

Under the proposals, the quarter-finalists from the Champions Cup would go into a competition with eight other clubs from around the world to see who is crowned world club champion.

This tournament would take place in a block in June with domestic finals shifting earlier in the season. The World Club Championship would take place every four years.

The concept is an exciting one and has been mooted for years. But as Baxter points out, the devil is in the detail. The tournament has to make financial sense and needs to be logistically manageable.

The inclusion of the South Africans in the Champions Cup should act as a cautionary tale. While they have been good value on the field, the logistics have been extremely challenging – especially for knockout matches at short notice – as evidenced by the Stormers’ travel to Exeter last year and the Bulls’ travails in getting to Northampton for their quarter-final this Saturday.

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