World Rugby announce global calendar agreement

  • England to tour the Pacific Islands 
  • June Test window will be replaced by July

World Rugby have announced changes to the long-term global calendar.

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.

“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.

“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."

A new July window

The revised 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.

The July window will 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)

That new window will enable Super Rugby to be completed before the tests, while promoting optimal preparation time for tests

The November window is to move forward one week (first three weeks while the Rugby World Cup window is cemented within the calendar, kicking off one week earlier in the second week of September 

Emerging nations

There will also be increased opportunity for emerging nations and greater schedule equity.

With rugby experiencing record global participation, fan-base and commercial growth, the schedule also aims to accelerate the competitiveness of international rugby through unprecedented and annual opportunities for the Pacific Islands, USA, Canada, Japan and the European nations, including Georgia and Romania. 

Emerging rugby powers will be integrated into the July and November windows, providing annual opportunities against the SANZAAR and RBS 6 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.

There will be a 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 are committed to hosting tier two nations in July window, creating a blend of opposition while France and England are to tour the Pacific Islands while USA, Canada and Japan also host tours

Georgia and Romania will also host matches against RBS 6 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.

RBS Nations unions are also to collectively host a guaranteed minimum of six tier two fixtures in each November window.

Player welfare

Player welfare is World Rugby’s number one priority and the calendar has been agreed with the full support of the International Rugby Players’ Association (IRPA).

As a result tours to SANZAAR nations immediately after a Rugby World Cup year will be reduced to two matches, promoting player welfare the year after rugby’s biggest event.