On the launch of the new Rugby Europe Super Cup we asked fans to put their questions to Rugby Europe President Octavian Morariu and CEO Florent Marty.
Here are their answers to your questions.
- Is the #RESuperCup a first step for mainland Europe? Are there further goals to elevate the Rugby Europe Championship to become a more professional and lucrative competition, and to become a viable alternative to the 6 Nations? What are the long-term goals for REC nations?
OM: Firstly, it’s a fantastic opportunity to bridge the gap between domestic and international rugby for the teams involved, and these teams involved in the Super Cup should become a hot bed of talent for the national teams to choose their players from. Together with our unions we’re dedicated to lifting the standard of Rugby Europe’s elite competitions.
FM We’ve been delighted with the early appetite from commercial and broadcast partners for the Rugby Europe Super Cup and we think this competition has a bright future both from a sporting and commercial perspective. The centralized commercial model for the Super Cup makes a big difference in our capability to market and sell the competition, working hand in hand with the participating teams. This is in line with the transformations we have started to operate on Rugby Europe Championship, raising the quality of broadcast, introducing TMO and HIA, with the REC also moving to a centralized media model from 2023. We want to continue building viable products, able to attract new fans and generate significant commercial revenues.
- Who will have the broadcasting rights in Europe?
OM: We have announced a first set of broadcast agreements: RTP in Portugal, Match TV in Russia, Rugby Challenge in Spain, with further broadcast arrangements to be announced in the near future.
It’s great that some of these broadcasters are showing not just the teams in their countries but the whole competition, this is extremely pleasing to gain greater visibility of the competition.
Aside from announced broadcast agreements, all games will be broadcast live on Rugby Europe TV.
- Is Rugby Europe going to publish Super Cup video highlights? Would the highlights be released in the same day of the matches? Would it have geo block? And what about photos of the matches? Is Rugby Europe going to provide photos for the media?
FM: Yes indeed, we will be publishing highlights following the conclusion of each match as well as pushing short form near live content through our social media channels, respecting our commercial agreements in certain cases. Disseminating various forms of content through various channels is at heart of Rugby Europe Super Cup content strategy. We will also provide a selection of images available to the media.
- Will this league help leading talent from smaller Rugby Europe countries who do not have a team based there or much opportunity at all to play professionally some help with a scouting combine program similar to what WR does for Pacific?
OM: We sincerely hope so, we’ve got the full support of World Rugby to help make this competition a success, we hope that some of the up-coming talent in Europe will be attracted to playing in this league.
We hope that more players will be able to use this competition as a shop window to showcase their talent.
FM: World Rugby High Performance department is working on this matter hand in hand with Rugby Europe and will send a delegate on many Super Cup matches to assess the players and teams’ performances and identify and guide better potential rising stars
- Enisei-STM will play one home match in Krasnoyarsk and two home matches in Moscow. Shouldn't they either play all matches in Moscow or play all matches in Krasnoyarsk?
FM: Rugby Europe has agreed with Enisei STM to play its home matches in Moscow (or in Sochi if weather conditions requires it), however, with the consent of the visiting team, there is the possibility for Enisei to play in his stadium, in order to offer to its numerous fans the taste and excitement of European Cup matches. This is the case for Lokomotiv Penza and this could be the case for others matches as well.
- Will there be match previews and reports like Rugby Europe currently does for the REC games?
FM: Of course, it is also central to our content strategy. We can see it works very well by the number of readers on that content. It’s incredibly important that we make our competitions a visible as we can.
- Do you have discussion with potential extension teams coming from Germany and Romania in particular? Or whatever Europe country?
OM: We do have expansion plans for the future. We think that this competition can accommodate up to 16 teams. We will expand gradually and have already announced that we will be working by cycles of 2 years. There have been discussions with the Romanian and German Unions as well as others and they are very keen to get involved when the time is right for them, and of course we will welcome them.
- Super Cup was set up with an aim to provide professional environment to countries without own professional league. Does it mean that in the future bids from such countries will be preferred to bids from countries with existing professional leagues?
OM: As we mentioned earlier, we are keen to expand the competition to new teams and new countries, this is regardless of the existence of a professional league in the country at it is already the case with the 8 teams involved.
Some have already a full professional league, some a semi-pro league, others are purely amateur. We are looking at bids and projects that make sense for the performance pathway of the Union and which can be a good fit for the competition.
- Are there any plans to make Super Cup a full-season professional league like @URCOfficial in the future or will it stay in a current short format?
OM: As mentioned, we will be working by 2 years cycles and consistently self-reflect on the competition format in liaison with the participating teams and unions. We’re not ruling out any format option for the future including a season long competition.
- Who is the competition target audience and how does it plan to reach them?
FM: Our target market has to be diverse; we have a solid base of viewers who will consume the competition, the key is to keep them engaged but also expand the visibility to those who are not yet aware of the Rugby Europe Super Cup.
We have spent a lot of effort in understanding who is consuming our products digitally, for example we now know that 40% of our viewers are males between 21-41 and the countries that they come from.
We also know which markets and segments we need to improve in, and we want the Super Cup to be a vehicle for helping us to achieve that.
We want teams to be building their own brand in their own territories and developing their markets and data, and we will of course support them wherever we can.
- Has any of the bigger rugby governing bodies in Europe (6N, EPCR, PRL, LNR) expressed any support, encouragement, and interest in offering any help where and if possible towards a shared goal towards expanding the sport on the continent?
OM: We have spoken to the EPCR around the competition and potential pathways in the future. I wouldn’t want to speak on their behalf, but we were encouraged by the discussions which are ongoing.
- Would the league consider dropping the idea of age-related restrictions for clubs? Young players good enough should not need this. It only rules out later developers, some experience where required, and adds a constantly artificially high rate of squad turnover.
OM: We think we have a good balance for the inaugural format in terms of age and eligibility requirements. Any type of player can find its way in the proposed format.
We do not rule out older players at all, we only encourage unions to give their first international experience to young talented players that are not yet fully at the level of their senior A national team. It’s worth remembering that these unions and federations do not have yet access to international club competition, as opposed to 6 nations clubs in the Northern Hemisphere.
We will consistently reflect on the competitions regulations to provide the best performance development pathway for teams and unions, with also a look to the desirability of the product both for the players and the fans.
- Does this league have any ambition to become a credible sustainable tournament in its own right independent of international rugby (which can stand up for the league's competitive interests where conflicts with internationals) or merely just a development tool for national teams?
FM: We do want to develop a credible sustainable competition and we think the initial backing from broadcasters and partners has been great.
We don’t want to oppose Super Cup interests and national team’s ones, we think that works hand in hand, especially for new and developing rugby markets.
We are determined to make the competition a success commercially and continue to deliver to the highest standards possible.
- Where will the final be held? How will it be decided? If the best team in pool stages earns hosting rights, will Enisei be allowed to host it in Krasnoyarsk? Thanks!
FM: The final will be held on the soil of the team who has the best record of the round robin phase. Whoever reaches the final, it will follow the same protocol as previously mentioned.
- Are you looking at any other markets for expansion or any crossover with Major League Rugby or SupaLiga AR?
OM: We have not had discussions about sporting crossover for the moment.
Our media and comms team have been working with SLAR to understand some of the challenges they have faced in launching a similar competition, as part of our development and learning it’s important that we collaborate and tap into the knowledge with other regions to learn from that.
The MLR model is obviously one we have looked at too and how they have marketed the league and made it visible digitally.
- Can any team sign new players at any time? Even before the semis and final
FM: There is a 36 list of players that is mandatory to use for the Pool Stage. Team can replace players in case of injury only from a 50 players’ list previously submitted to Rugby Europe.
- What is the minimum budget [from RE] and how do new teams apply for the competition?
OM: The announced central budget for this year is 600 k€. Team budgets vary greatly from country to country due to living cost differences. All budgets must be balanced.
- In Russia will all the matches be shown on YouTube and tv?
FM: We are delighted to have an agreement in place with Match TV and expect the competition to get some really good visibility as a result.
Highlights will be on our YouTube channel and we will select a number of games to replay on that platform too when they don’t conflict with and broadcasting deals we have in place.
- Is a trophy against other competitions with the champions, say SLAR, planned?
OM: Not as yet but we know that international club competition is quite high on the radar of World Rugby. We feel this could be a really good opportunity to create something like this in the future but we must first ensure that the respective competitions are stable and sustainable.
- Any plans of having a women's version of the Super Cup (in other words, a Rugby Europe women's club/franchises competition) in the near future?
OM: Women’s rugby is a key strategic pillar for Rugby Europe and yes we want to create a similar competition for Women in the future, when our member unions feel it will be the right time.
- Is Rugby Europe working to have live scores and live coverage of the Super Cup in its website? Are there talks with medias that provide live scores like Ultimate Rugby and Sofa Score to cover the Super Cup?
FM: Live scores and stats will be available on our website for each Super Cup game.
We believe this is a key component to help facilitate the editorial coverage of the competition.
The first game will take place between the Delta and the Brussels Devils before the Lusitanos host Castilla y Leon Iberians in Lisbon.
All games will be available to watch on rugbyeurope.tv