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New World Rugby global calendar moves June window, will boost tier-two nations
11:54 pm GMT+12, 16/03/2017, Ireland

It's been a slow and thorough process, but New Zealand Rugby boss Steve Tew believes the moves made around the global rugby calendar are positive.
 
World Rugby has promised more tests between top and second-tier nations and announced changes to the timing of international windows in a new global calendar to run from 2020 to 2032.
 
The current June international window will move to the first three weeks of July, enabling Super Rugby to be completed prior to the test matches. France and England have also committed to tours of the Pacific Islands.
 
Speaking to Radio Sport, Tew said he thought the changes would be appreciated by New Zealand fans as time goes on.  
 
"While World Rugby hasn't been able to release an actual schedule of draws, there is an agreement on what those fixtures look like.
 
"We've got a really good programme here for that 10 years, 2020-2030, and we've also locked in three more Lions series.
 
"So when the British and Irish Lions leave here later this year we know we can look forward to them going to Australia, South Africa and New Zealand before 2030. So a heap of good stuff in that announcement."
 
There will also be a minimum of a 39 per cent increase in matches between top and second-tier nations over that period, which will include European team tours of the Pacific Islands.
 
"We've got a bunch of emerging nations and they need some regular football at the highest level, but at the same time the nations at that highest level now need to play each other to drive the revenue to keep their players secure. So we've found a happy balance I think."
 
The November international window in which southern hemisphere sides head north will start a week earlier to give players from the Sanzaar region a longer break between seasons.
 
"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," World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said in a statement from the organisation on Friday.
 
The Rugby World Cup will also begin a week earlier than has been the case; from 2023 it will start in the second week of September.
 
But it is the increase of exposure for second-tier nations that will provide the biggest potential shake-up to the game.
 
Southern hemisphere teams have committed to hosting tier-two teams in July, while Georgia and Romania will also entertain Six Nations sides in that window.
 
Six Nations sides have also guaranteed they will host a minimum of six matches against second-tier teams in November.
 
"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," Beaumont said.
 
"This process has been complex and there was no silver bullet. Compromise has been achieved by all stakeholders in the spirit of collaboration...," he said.

SOURCE: REUTERS/PACNEWS


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