Aviva Premiership

Champions Cup at centre of proposed rugby calendar shake-up

The European rugby season could be set for a shake-up to accommodate an extended block of continental competition in December and January.

The existing calendar sees teams playing Champions Cup or Challenge Cup fixtures in pairs, woven into their domestic schedule.

However, the Daily Telegraph reports that one proposal being looked at involves playing all group and quarter-final matches in one long run.

The changes would mean domestic leagues such as the Premiership and Pro12 being split into two blocks - October to November and February to May - and the Six Nations pushed back by a couple of weeks.

The European semi-finals would take place in May, with the final following in June.

"There is a strong desire to have longer blocks for domestic clubs to be able to get into one competition rather than dip in and dip out all the time," European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) chairman Simon Halliday is quoted as saying by the newspaper.

"It is perfectly logical. We need to have a tournament that allows brands to be built and the product – the quality of the rugby – to be outstanding for supporters.

"If we get longer blocks of time, that would work for us so people can get into the mindset of European rugby.

"It also would also allow us to be creative in staging back-to-back games and double-headers, the types of occasions that are currently going on in domestic rugby which are bringing crowds in.

"If we could also get the quarter-final played before the beginning of the Six Nations then we would have a couple of months to advertise it, brand it, look at ways of doing that effectively, and then it would adopt its appropriate place in the calendar.

"The semi-final of the European Champions or Challenge Cup should be a big event, well marketed and well advertised, and then you would not have any issues of struggling to fill the stadium because you don't have time to do it or it is in the wrong location."

Any changes would come into effect from 2019, following the conclusion of the current television deal.