How would England fare in European Super League

European Super Leagues full backs: Mike Brown, Anthony Watson, Ben Foden, Alex Goode and Mike Haley
European Super Leagues full backs: Mike Brown, Anthony Watson, Ben Foden, Alex Goode and Mike Haley

The prospect of a ‘European Super League’, very much mirroring the format of Super Rugby in the southern hemisphere, has been discussed at length for years now.

The debate was given fresh impetuous recently by Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal, who has argued that the Champions Cup should be scrapped and a European league formed to take its place.

In Boudjellal’s vision, a 20-team league, with two 10-team conferences, would be formed, consisting of six French, six English and eight other teams, presumably three Welsh, three Irish and two Scottish/one Scottish and one Italian.

It’s an unlikely prospect for a multitude of reasons but with professional rugby a fairly recent concept, it is a sport much more amenable to drastic overhauls and changes such as this and there’s no doubt that the poor performances of the European nations at the Rugby World Cup last year will have given this idea some extra legs.

So how, should any kind of European Super Rugby format be introduced, would England cope with the change? Would they have the pool and, most importantly, quality of players to put together five franchises as New Zealand and Australia do?

They would still be financially better off than their southern hemisphere counterparts and able to attract big name signings, but a key factor would be that they would need at least two English players in every position, lest the England national team struggle as a result of less representation at the elite level of European rugby.

The country would also need to be split, with franchises representing five distinct regions. These would likely be the West Country, London and the home counties, the East Midlands, the West Midlands and the North.

Divvying up players between the five sides would be a nightmare but one which the English player pool seems capable of fulfilling and keeping all five sides highly competitive. Below are the top 10 English or English-qualified players in each position shared out equally amongst the five sides, with preference given to players’ current geographic location where possible. The presence of certain of players and omission of others can be quibbled over, but this is just to demonstrate the depth and potential quality of the sides, rather than an ironclad statement of who would be involved and who wouldn’t.



West Country

East Midlands

West Midlands



Mako Vunipola

Nick Auterac

Alex Waller

Matt Mullan

Joe Marler


Richard Barrington

Nathan Catt

Ethan Waller

Alec Hepburn

Ross Harrison


Kyle Sinckler

Henry Thomas

Dan Cole

Paul Hill

Kieran Brookes


Kieran Longbottom

Jake Cooper-Woolley

Fraser Balmain

Nick Schonert

Scott Wilson


Jamie George

Luke Cowan-Dickie

Tom Youngs

Dylan Hartley

George McGuigan


Ross Batty

Jack Yeandle

Mike Haywood

Tommy Taylor

Jack Walker


Maro Itoje

Dave Attwood

Courtney Lawes

Joe Launchbury

Ed Slater


Charlie Matthews

Charlie Ewels

Mike Fitzgerald

James Gaskell

Dom Barrow


George Kruis

Matt Symons

Graham Kitchener

Geoff Parling

Michael Patterson


Sam Twomey

Elliot Stooke

Mike Williams

Tom Ellis

Tom Savage


Chris Robshaw

Dave Ewers

Tom Wood

Jamie Gibson

Tom Croft


Jackson Wray

Matt Garvey

Teimana Harrison

Sam Jones

Will Welch


Will Fraser

Matt Kvesic

Brendon O’Connor

James Haskell

Calum Clark


Jack Clifford

Luke Wallace

Matt Hankin

Dave Ward

Harry Thacker


Billy Vunipola

Ben Morgan

Lachlan McCaffrey

Nathan Hughes

Josh Beaumont


James Chisholm

Thomas Waldrom

Sam Dickinson

Lewis Ludlow

Phil Dowson


Danny Care

Will Chudley

Ben Youngs

Joe Simpson

Lee Dickson


Ben Spencer

Chris Cook

Sam Harrison

Dan Robson

Richard Wigglesworth


Owen Farrell

Henry Slade

Freddie Burns

Danny Cipriani

George Ford


Theo Brophy Clews

Billy Burns

Stephen Myler

Alex Lozowski

Ben Botica


Brad Barritt

Sam Hill

Manu Tuilagi

Kyle Eastmond

Ryan Mills


Johnny Williams

Ollie Devoto

Harry Mallinder

Billy Twelvetrees

Harry Sloan


Elliot Daly

Jonathan Joseph

Luther Burrell

Ben Te’o

Sam James


Nick Tompkins

Henry Trinder

Tom Stephenson

Tom Fowlie

Mat Tait


Marland Yarde

Semesa Rokoduguni

Matt Banahan

Jonny May

James Short


Topsy Ojo

Henry Purdy

Tom Collins

Olly Woodburn

Will Addison


Chris Ashton

Jack Nowell

Alex Lewington

Christian Wade

Marcus Watson


Mike Ellery

Nev Edwards

Jamie Elliot

Charlie Sharples

Tom Brady


Mike Brown

Anthony Watson

Ben Foden

Alex Goode

Mike Haley


Ollie Lindsay-Hague

Tom Homer

Rob Miller

Chris Pennell

Simon Hammersley


The above players are just those established in the Premiership and doesn’t include players still breaking through. It’s a fanciful allocation of players, but does demonstrate the potential England have should any overhaul of the European league and/or cup system take place.

The reality is that with independent ownership of clubs and the Premiership thriving, all the odds are stacked against any such competition coming into being. As appealing as it might be to some to see franchises consisting of almost entirely English players throwing the ball about in a summer season, there are just too many obstacles in place to consider it a reality at this moment in time.

The current balance between club and country in England works and we’re starting to see the improvements made at academy level over the last five years filter through to success at European and international levels. It would be far better to tweak that than scrap everything and start again on a wing and a prayer, as tempting as the potential results may be.

Widely regarded as the most competitive rugby union league in the can only be the Gallagher Premiership.

The division is becoming more and more exciting as each year passes by so who will be lifting silverware at Twickenham in May?

At Talking Rugby Union, we aim to provide match reports and news together with our specially commissioned features and interviews.