World Rugby reveals changes to global calendar post 2019 with England to tour the Pacific Islands

Jack Austin
The Independent
England will tour the Pacific Islands post-2019: Getty
England will tour the Pacific Islands post-2019: Getty

World Rugby has announced big changes to its global calendar post-2019, which it says will increases matches between Tier One and Tier Two nations by as much as 39 per cent.

As a part of the new calendar, the current June Test window, which normally sees Northern Hemisphere sides travel to the Southern Hemisphere, will be moved to July.

It also includes provisions for Tier One tours to the Pacific Islands, Japan, Canada, USA, Georgia and Romania.

Both England and France will tour the Pacific Islands while Georgia and Romania are also set to host games against the Red Rose.

They also said that rankings of Tier Two nations will determine if emerging teams at the time are provided with Tier One opportunities based on merit.

The shift will apply from 2020 to 2032 and Rugby’s governing body say that player welfare was behind the changes to the current format.

They said in a statement on their website: “A major priority for World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont following his election in May 2016, the optimised 2020-32 schedule sets new standards by prioritising rest periods, promoting equity for the sport’s emerging powers and harmonising the relationship between the international and domestic games.”

Beaumont said: “Agreement on an optimised global calendar that provides certainty and sustainability over the decade beyond Rugby World Cup 2019 represents an historic milestone for the global game.

“But more than that, this agreement has player welfare and equity at heart, driving certainty and opportunities for emerging rugby powers and laying the foundations for a more compelling and competitive international game, which is great for unions, players and fans.

“This process has been complex and there was no silver bullet. Compromise has been achieved by all stakeholders in the spirit of collaboration and I would like to thank my union and professional league colleagues for their full contribution and commitment to reaching an agreement that will ultimately benefit the whole game.”

The July window will take place in the first three weeks of the months and continue to comprise of three Tests, allowing the Super Rugby season to be completed with optimal preparation time.

The dates for the autumn internationals will also move forward a week to the first three weeks of November, with the Rugby World Cup similarly starting a week earlier.

World Rugby insist the changes will aid the development of the club game alongside international rugby.

Bill Beaumont said the changes will help player welfare (Getty)
Bill Beaumont said the changes will help player welfare (Getty)

However, there was no mention on whether the Six Nations would remain in its current spot of February and March amidst suggestions it could be moved.

Neither was there any mention on future Lions tours, with the first one on the new calendar set for June and July 2021.

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