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Exeter’s Rob Baxter warns proposed Club World Cup must add up financially
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Exeter’s Rob Baxter warns proposed Club World Cup must add up financially

The wisdom of introducing a Club World Cup from 2028 has been questioned by Exeter’s director of rugby, Rob Baxter, who believes the new competition would need to stack up financially from the start. Baxter, whose side face Toulouse in the Champions Cup quarter-finals on Sunday, says clubs will want to receive guarantees rather than alluring promises of jam tomorrow.

Baxter is not alone in awaiting further details of the package on offer following news this week that preliminary agreement has been reached at board level for the eight Champions Cup quarter-finalists to meet the top six teams from Super Rugby and, potentially, two Japanese sides in a four-week tournament in June every four years.

“If someone says to me that they’ve got the finances in place to cover everyone’s travel costs, there’s a TV deal so that all the clubs involved get millions of pounds and that helps all the clubs become viable, thriving businesses, then I’d say it’s exactly what the game needs,” said Baxter.

“If, as what normally happens, it’s ‘Let’s try to give it a go and see if we can make it work, and drive some interest’ then I will be very hesitant about it. You can very easily create bigger issues in the game trying to solve issues, as we’ve seen numerous times. The old argument of: ‘Do it and the game will grow’… clubs in this country can’t take that approach. We can’t go and see if it works in four years’ time – we just can’t do that.”

Baxter made the point that Exeter and other teams already have to shell out tens of thousands of pounds when they travel away in the Champions Cup, with combined losses among Premiership sides last year totalling £25m. “Let’s make sure it is genuinely viable before we start adding more competitions, games and travel costs etc. As much as we all might want to do it, you have to be able to afford to do it.”

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In this year’s Champions Cup quarter-finals, meanwhile, at least two teams are likely to field weakened lineups. Faced with a tight turnaround after last weekend’s round of 16, the Bulls have reportedly flown north from South Africa without a number of Springbok players for their last-eight fixture at Northampton, while Harlequins will be missing the England duo Joe Marler and Danny Care when they face Bordeaux.

Source: theguardian.com