European Champions Cup & Domestic Leagues Set For Radical Overhaul
European rugby chiefs are calling for a radical restructuring of the domestic leagues as part of the negotiations over the new global calendar from 2019, according to The Daily Telegraph.
The plans under consideration would mean that the English and PRO12 domestic fixture lists would have to be redrawn to ensure that the European Champions and Challenge Cups pool matches are played in one extended block during December and January.
The plans also include staging the quarter-finals of both European tournaments before the start of the Six Nations Championship to allow more than two months to market and sell tickets for the semi-finals.
The pool matches of the Champions Cup are currently played in a stop-start fashion over six weekends in October, December and January.
We then have to wait for two-months for the quarter-finals in the final weekend of March.
The proposed shake-up is understood to have significant support within both the clubs and unions.
Under the plans the domestic season would start in October, with four rounds of Premiership and Pro12 matches leading into the autumn Test series.
The six rounds of European pool matches would then be played in December and January, with the quarter-finals staged ahead of a Six Nations, which would be pushed back by a couple of weeks.
The Premiership and Pro12 season would then run to the end of the season without interruption apart from for those clubs involved in the European semi-finals and finals.
EPCR believes playing the pool games back-to-back would provide a more level playing field for competing teams, generate greater interest among supporters and make the European competitions more attractive to broadcasters.
Negotiations about the next broadcasting deal are expected to begin before the end of the year, with the current deal between BT Sport and Sky Sport due to expire at the end of next season. [Telegraph]