World Rugby, the sport’s global body, have announced signifcant changes to the long-term global calendar.
The new 2020-32 schedule now prioritises rest periods, as well as supporting the sport’s tier two nations further, and brings further accord to the relationship between the international and domestic games.
“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,” said World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont (via World Rugby)
“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.”
Moreover, the ‘optimised’ calendar retains three existing annual international windows (northern hemisphere, southern hemisphere and November), but the June window will be replaced by a new July window. This will enable the Super Rugby season to run uninterrupted and to optimise July tests preparation for all unions.
These changes will mean:
- July window to take place in the first three weeks of the month, comprising three tests (with the exception of the year after Rugby World Cup when SANZAAR unions will host two-test series)
- July window will enable Super Rugby to be completed before the tests, while promoting optimal preparation time for tests
- November window to move forward one week (first three weeks)
- Rugby World Cup window cemented within the calendar, kicking off one week earlier in the second week of September
- Optimised windows will aid the development of the club game
The changes also mean emerging rugby powers (such as Georgia and Romania) will be integrated into the July and November windows, providing annual opportunities against the SANZAAR and Six Nations unions across July and November. In addition, a rotation principle that includes emerging rugby powers will deliver greater schedule equity, promoting more meaningful, compelling fixtures and supporting World Rugby’s objective to increase the competitiveness of the global game. These include:
- Record minimum of 110 tier one v tier two matches over the period as emerging rugby nations are integrated into the schedule throughout the period (a 39 per cent increase on the previous schedule)
- SANZAAR Unions committed to hosting tier two nations in July window, creating a blend of opposition
- France and England to tour the Pacific Islands while USA, Canada and Japan also host tours
- Georgia and Romania to host matches against Six Nations unions within the July window
- Ability for rankings to determine inclusion of tier two teams in the schedule after Rugby World Cup 2019 and 2023 tournaments to ensure top emerging teams at the time are provided with tier one opportunities based on merit
- Six Nations unions to collectively host a guaranteed minimum of six tier two fixtures in each November window
World Rugby chairman Beaumont added:
“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.”
Paul Wassell, Pundit Arena