'Battle of champions' clash moves a step closer
September 30, 2013
The Chiefs' Ben Tameifuna enjoys his side's latest Super Rugby triumph back in August © Getty Images
The proposed clash between Super Rugby champions The Chiefs and Heineken Cup holders Toulon has reportedly moved a step closer coming to fruition.
French newspaper Midi Olympique reports that the New Zealand Rugby Union has given the go ahead for the mouth-watering match-up to take place at Toulon's Stade Mayol home on Sunday, February 2. However, NZRU chief executive Steve Tew has told the Sunday News that a number of issues are yet to be resolved before the game can be signed off - most notably player welfare.
The fixture would fall on the eve of the new Super Rugby season and the NZRU are understood to be concerned about the toll on the Chiefs' All Blacks contingent and are keen to ensure they have an extended break following the forthcoming end of year tour of Europe.
The Sunday News reports that Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal, who tabled the original idea, is willing to cover all of the Chiefs' costs and will also pay the Waikato-based side a fee for the game.
However, the game can only go ahead with the approval of the NZRU while European Rugby Cup Ltd, the organisers of the Heineken Cup, have previously stated that Toulon 'do not have the latitude' to organise such a game under the terms of the current participation agreement.
"It's too early to say where this proposal will end up," Tew told the newspaper. "We've got to work through a number of questions and we're in the middle of doing that."
He added: "Does it suit everybody in terms of preparation for a long season? The long-term welfare of all the players is the No.1 consideration. Having said that, the Chiefs have given it a lot of thought and it's a proposal worth giving serious consideration to.
"On the surface it looks positive but you have to work through the detail before getting too carried away."
A decision is expected to be made at the NZRU board meeting late next month.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Download ESPN's new UK multisport app, a fresh and powerful new way to follow your favourite UK sports news, scores and video.
As Scotland decides its future, Scrum Sevens looks at a group of players who transcended rugby both for country and the British & Irish Lions
Ahead of November's USA-All Blacks match, America's ESPN Magazine explains rugby to its readers who may not be familiar with the game
Tom Hamilton talks to World Cup-winning captain John Smit about life after rugby, his fears over the South African exodus and the World Cup