World Rugby announces better calendar of matches and tours

FILE - In this Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015 file photo, New Zealand's captain Richie McCaw holds the Rugby world cup trophy aloft after his team's final victory over Australia at Twickenham in London. The victory formed part of New Zealand's record 18-match winning streak at the highest level, a mark that England hopes to overtake on Saturday, March 18, 2017 when it plays Ireland. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland, File)

World Rugby has moved the international break for test matches from June to July to help deliver uninterrupted Super Rugby, and increased games between tier one and two.

The moves to harmonize the global calendar will begin in 2020 and go to 2032, rugby’s governing body said on Thursday.

It also said there will be tours by some of the 10 tier one teams to the Pacific Islands, Japan, Canada, the United States, Georgia and Romania, who make up the bulk of tier two teams.

The All Blacks, Wallabies, Springboks and Pumas have committed to hosting tier two teams in July.

France and England will tour the Pacific Islands.

Japan, Canada and the U.S. will also host tours in July.

There was also an assurance the Six Nations teams will collectively host six tier two teams each November.

The change in the midyear international touring window was the most important, Australian Rugby Union chief executive Bill Pulver said.

”Our No. 1 priority was to ensure we could move to an uninterrupted Super Rugby season, and we are delighted to have reached that outcome,” Pulver said.

Pulver said three tests would be played in Australia each July. But in the year after Rugby World Cups, inbound tours by northern hemisphere teams would be cut from three matches to two. The next Rugby World Cup is in 2019 in Japan.

The schedule ”gives us great long-term certainty around our international fixtures,” New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew said.

”We now have certainty with a 10-year program of July tours already agreed, including three British and Irish Lions series,” Tew added.

The Lions will play the world champion All Blacks in three tests in New Zealand in June and July.