European rugby chiefs admit that attempts to set up a Club Rugby World Cup remain ongoing with no deadline set for the concept to get off the ground.
The competition that would pit the best domestic sides from the northern and southern hemispheres against each other every four years received public backing from unions and leagues during the summer yet is no closer to fruition.
European Professional Club Rugby chairman Dominic McKay is “optimistic” it will happen despite the many hurdles faced in establishing a global tournament.
“It’s been a topic of conversation for some considerable time. We’re making some good progress,” McKay said.
“We’re doing a lot of work behind the scenes to evaluate it as a proposition. It needs to be additive to what we currently enjoy and be complementary to the existing structures.
“Everyone is leaning in to find the right outcome, but we’ll do that in a measured and sensible way. It’s certainly possible and we’re chopping through the detail methodically right now.
“Nothing’s agreed until everything is agreed and we’ve got a bit of work to get through.
“Rugby is littered with great ideas that never come to fruition but I’m optimistic that we’re making good progress.
“We won’t be definitive on a timeline because that creates undue expectation, but we have to keep working away like we did on the South African side working their way into Europe.
“That was a really important project for us over the last nine months and we’re delighted that’s come to fruition. The next project is the concept of a world club challenge.”
South African sides are taking part in the Champions and Challenge Cup for the first time this season but McKay revealed there are “checks in place” to review their participation.
It is understood that the French league is unconvinced by the presence of the Sharks, Stormers, Bulls, Lions and Cheetahs in European competition with the logistics and safety surrounding away fixtures the primary concern.
McKay stated that finals would continue to be staged only in established rugby nations, ruling out a ‘destination final’ such as Barcelona, but is open to one being held in South Africa at some point in the future.