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Champions Cup with 16 teams means expanded Challenge Cup?

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Champions Cup with 16 teams means expanded Challenge Cup?

Postby victorsra » Tue, 11 Sep 2018, 15:11

Interesting article: https://www.rugbypass.com/news/major-re ... ed-reports

It says:
One suggestion is that the 20-team Champions Cup, which had previously been reduced from the 24-team Heineken Cup, be further reduced to a 16-team competition, thereby offering high-profile and elite matches in each round of the competition. In this structure, the top five teams from the Premiership, Top 14 and Guinness PRO14 would qualify for the competition each year, in addition to the previous season’s Challenge Cup winner.


Well, so how the Challenge Cup would be affected? Would it be incresed? And what could be the effects on the Continental Shield?

One thing is obvious: the European cups will have 9 rounds. Can a 9-rounds Challenge Cup be expanded and include more countries?
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Re: Champions Cup with 16 teams means expanded Challenge Cup

Postby TheStroBro » Tue, 11 Sep 2018, 17:18

Dear Jesus...all this talk of player welfare...

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Re: Champions Cup with 16 teams means expanded Challenge Cup

Postby NaBUru38 » Tue, 11 Sep 2018, 17:28

Top 14 teams play 26 regular season matches, plus 3 playoffs matches. Combined with the 9 rounds of the Champions Cup, it's 38 matches. Some players also do tests, of which there are some 10-12 per year.

But that's another discussion.

Is there a need to reduce the number of teams to 16? I would say no. Other than Italian teams, all teams win at least one match.

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Re: Champions Cup with 16 teams means expanded Challenge Cup

Postby victorsra » Tue, 11 Sep 2018, 17:45

Player welfare could be solved with a limit of hours a player could play in club rugby.
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Re: Champions Cup with 16 teams means expanded Challenge Cup

Postby CraigChalmers » Tue, 11 Sep 2018, 18:13

NaBUru38 wrote:Top 14 teams play 26 regular season matches, plus 3 playoffs matches. Combined with the 9 rounds of the Champions Cup, it's 38 matches. Some players also do tests, of which there are some 10-12 per year.

But that's another discussion.

Is there a need to reduce the number of teams to 16? I would say no. Other than Italian teams, all teams win at least one match.


Yes. It's tradition that every time the Celtic nations out-perform the English in Europe, the later has to propose cutting the number of teams involved.

I was actually supportive of a 16 team European Cup last time it was reformed, largely because 32 is too many teams and I've always hated the best runner up concept. 16 teams, 4 groups of 4, each group winner hosts a runner up in the quarter finals. Semi-final venues decided by toss of a coin, and final obviously at neutral venue. And since you are only competing against the other 3 teams in your group, having a crap team is no more an advantage to you than it is to the other 2 teams you are competing against. It just works!

That said, at that time, I was wanting 4 English, 4 French and 6 Pro14 (guaranteeing one place for each country plus the next best 2), with the other 2 awarded to the defending Champions and Challenge Cup winners (transferred within their country if already qualified). 5 teams from the Pro14 now runs a very real risk that only 4 nations would be represented - is that really a European Cup? I think it's pushing it enough without the Italians!



As for what it means for other competitions, my idea was always to reduce the Challenge Cup to 16 teams (bear in mind we would see a big increase in quality of sides in this tier - this season for example would have Toulouse, Toulon & Leicester for starters).

That would leave 6 teams from the Pro12 (excluding SA), Top14 and Premiership that weren't in either competition. Add in the 10 teams* that currently play in the Continental Shield and voila, we have a 3rd tier tournament that has a genuinely European feel about it.

*I would have at least last years winners in the Challenge Cup, with the allocation of spaces across the 3 tournaments reviewed each season in line with performances in the tournaments.

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Re: Champions Cup with 16 teams means expanded Challenge Cup

Postby victorsra » Tue, 11 Sep 2018, 18:33

I like your idea of a better 3rd competition but the problem is the commercial aspect of such tournament. It looks to not be that viable...

A 32-teams Challenge Cup instead could work, with 22 PRO14/Top14/Premiership clubs + 2 Italian Eccellenza clubs + 8 clubs from REC nations. But to make it better it could be 1 or 2 Russians (due to Siberia being too far from the rest of Europe) + 6 or 7 clubs coming from regional cups (and not national leagues) from the other REC nations, such and Iberic Cup, Black Sea Cup, Benelux Cup, etc.

A 32-teams Challenge Cup could have groups phase with only 3 rounds (determing who plays twice at home according to the league's positions) followed by the eight-finals. This would mean a 7 rounds competitions, allowing 2 rests for Challenge Cup clubs.
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Re: Champions Cup with 16 teams means expanded Challenge Cup

Postby dropkick » Tue, 11 Sep 2018, 18:59

I thought they wanted to grow the tournament. If some countries are not involved, that's not good for the tournament.

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Re: Champions Cup with 16 teams means expanded Challenge Cup

Postby TheStroBro » Tue, 11 Sep 2018, 20:30

victorsra wrote:Player welfare could be solved with a limit of hours a player could play in club rugby.

You need to reduce total fixtures. Do you really think 32 Fixtures is worth the toll on the body? Plus Pre-season?

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Re: Champions Cup with 16 teams means expanded Challenge Cup

Postby Tobar » Tue, 11 Sep 2018, 22:55

Correct me if I'm wrong but the Champions/Challenge Cups are run by EPCR which is owned by the 6 Nations unions plus the 3 club competitions, right? If so then the competition really has little incentive to include Continental Shield teams outside of the Italian clubs. I'd love to get more involved so there's an actual incentive for teams in Spain, Germany, Russia, etc. to participate, thus growing them further but I'm wondering how much EPCR actually care about this. The only reason I see them really caring is because it can help develop these countries as potential markets.

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Re: Champions Cup with 16 teams means expanded Challenge Cup

Postby Armchair Fan » Tue, 11 Sep 2018, 23:00

The main incentive it is increasingly hard to convince sponsors to spend big amounts of money in a competition only really followed in three countries (UK, France and Ireland). And in post-Brexit climate it can be even harder. Some sponsors need them to do activation outside their comfort area and the most reasonable and direct activation program is to hold games outside those territories. But finals only happen once a year and you can't hold them every single year in a new non-rugby nation, so a third competition looks necessary.

The problem is EPCR approach, not Continental Shield existence.

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Re: Champions Cup with 16 teams means expanded Challenge Cup

Postby victorsra » Tue, 11 Sep 2018, 23:27

You need to reduce total fixtures. Do you really think 32 Fixtures is worth the toll on the body? Plus Pre-season?


I agree in theory with you, but there is not any chance of seeing this happening. Zero. English clubs play 39 matches/year and French clubs play 38. They wont reduce anything. No one can force them. The only way to deal with it is to protect players regulating players' matches, not teams' matches.
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Re: Champions Cup with 16 teams means expanded Challenge Cup

Postby Tobar » Wed, 12 Sep 2018, 00:04

Armchair Fan wrote:The main incentive it is increasingly hard to convince sponsors to spend big amounts of money in a competition only really followed in three countries (UK, France and Ireland). And in post-Brexit climate it can be even harder. Some sponsors need them to do activation outside their comfort area and the most reasonable and direct activation program is to hold games outside those territories. But finals only happen once a year and you can't hold them every single year in a new non-rugby nation, so a third competition looks necessary.

The problem is EPCR approach, not Continental Shield existence.


Isn’t the suggestion here that there more Continental Shield teams should be playing against Challenge Cup teams in a revamped competition? That’s what I’m referring to.

I like the idea of the CS but it’s execution leaves something to be desired. Right now it just feels like a token tournament given to countries with no actual idea of development behind it. 1 team gets to play in the Challenge Cup But I’d like to see more.

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Re: Champions Cup with 16 teams means expanded Challenge Cup

Postby Blurandski » Wed, 12 Sep 2018, 00:52

Tobar wrote:Correct me if I'm wrong but the Champions/Challenge Cups are run by EPCR which is owned by the 6 Nations unions plus the 3 club competitions, right? If so then the competition really has little incentive to include Continental Shield teams outside of the Italian clubs. I'd love to get more involved so there's an actual incentive for teams in Spain, Germany, Russia, etc. to participate, thus growing them further but I'm wondering how much EPCR actually care about this. The only reason I see them really caring is because it can help develop these countries as potential markets.


EPCR is owned equally by PRL, the Pro14 and LNR. Therefore the WRU/SRU/IRFU/FIR all have a share, but the RFU and FFR don’t.

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Re: Champions Cup with 16 teams means expanded Challenge Cup

Postby TheStroBro » Wed, 12 Sep 2018, 01:35

Tobar wrote:Isn’t the suggestion here that there more Continental Shield teams should be playing against Challenge Cup teams in a revamped competition? That’s what I’m referring to.

I like the idea of the CS but it’s execution leaves something to be desired. Right now it just feels like a token tournament given to countries with no actual idea of development behind it. 1 team gets to play in the Challenge Cup But I’d like to see more.

Did you not see the issues involved with HRK? These folks understand it quite well methinks.

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Re: Champions Cup with 16 teams means expanded Challenge Cup

Postby victorsra » Wed, 12 Sep 2018, 05:05

No, it is 9 stakeholders. Quoting EPCR's website:

"European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) is the organiser of the Heineken Champions Cup, Challenge Cup and Continental Shield tournaments.

Established in 2014 with headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, EPCR has the following shareholders: Federation Francaise de Rugby (FFR), Federazione Italiana Rugby (FIR), Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU), Rugby Football Union (RFU), Scottish Rugby Union (SRU), Welsh Rugby Union (WRU), Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR), Premiership Rugby (PRL) and Pro Rugby Wales".

https://www.epcrugby.com/european-profe ... -epcr/faq/
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Re: Champions Cup with 16 teams means expanded Challenge Cup

Postby Figaro » Wed, 12 Sep 2018, 11:47

I can't see them shrinking the Champions cup further. It would only increase the odds of big teams like Ospreys, Clermont and Northampton (all in the Challenge Cup this year) missing out. Plus a smaller competition means less product and therefore less money and why would they want that.

People moan about the Irish dominance (which is really just a Leinster dominance - Ulster have always been crap and Munster are a shadow of their former selves) - conveniently forgettting that a couple of seasons ago people were saying how the Celtic sides would never be able to compete with Anglo-French finance - but that isn't going to be fixed by shrinking the competition as the big Irish teams are still going to qualify easily. Leinster do so well because they have a massive squad of world class players, the issue isn't that they get too many easy games in the group stages. The only real issue with competitiveness in the Champions Cup was the Italian side, and that's been scrapped now that Pro14 qualification is purely meritocratic (there are no Italians in the Champions cup this year).

I think it is more likely that it will expand, to accomodate e.g. South African involvment if the Super Rugby teams all switch to the Pro14.

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