Traditional Tours are back on the international Rugby calendar after the International Rugby Board Council approved a new global 10-year playing schedule that will shape the Test landscape in the run up to Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan.
The schedule, which commences in 2012, will lead to more meaningful Tests between SANZAR and Six Nations Unions during the June window, providing an attractive and equitable commercial model that will see northern hemisphere Unions tour southern hemisphere Unions on a rotational basis.
Most years within the schedule will involve a three-Test series against only one visiting nation in June, with midweek matches also set to be incorporated into the touring side's itinerary at the agreement of the respective Unions.
- Return to Test Series
- Opening the door to midweek Tour matches against representative or club sides
- Return of Tours to the Pacific Islands, North America and Japan
- Integrated Tier 2 schedule
- No change to the limit of Test matches under Regulation 9
"The approval of this new global schedule represents an historic landmark for the Game and is the culmination of four years of extensive work that kicked off at the Woking Forum in 2007 where the global Rugby family committed to finding an appropriate schedule that adds value to the June window, provides the catalyst for the growth of our sport and is acceptable to all the Game's major stakeholders," said IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset.
"The development of a global schedule is not an easy task. However, this schedule will lay the foundations for Rugby to continue its phenomenal growth throughout the next decade and beyond. I would like to thank all the Unions for their full collaboration and commitment to drafting a schedule that is in the best interests of the Game."
The new schedule meets the IRB's strategic goal of providing the platform to grow and increase the profile of the Game around the world while also recognising the commercial requirements of the Tier 1 and Tier 2 Unions.
A core component of the new schedule is an integrated Test schedule for targeted Strategic Investment Unions, providing the platform for increased competition and growth through the delivery of more ranking tests between Tier 2 nations and matches against touring Tier 1 sides for the first time in several years, with Tests in North America, Japan and the Pacific Islands.
Specific Test Series and Tours will be announced by the respective participating Unions in due course as per usual commercial practice.