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Page last updated at 09:40 GMT, Tuesday, 18 May 2010 10:40 UK

International Rugby Board agrees 10-year tour schedule

England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson is tackled by New Zealand second row Brad Thorn
England could play New Zealand three weekends in a row

Traditional tours are back on the agenda after rugby union's governing body revealed a new 10-year plan.

Since the game went professional in 1995, one-off Tests between the game's major powers have become the norm.

But from 2012, northern hemisphere sides will go south for tours featuring two or three Tests against the same team, plus mid-week games, every June.

International Rugby Board chairman Bernard Lapasset hailed the plan as a "historic landmark" for the game.

"It 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," he added.


"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."

The new calendar will shape the future of the international game up to the 2019 World Cup, which will be held in Japan, and is aimed at producing "more meaningful Tests" between the game's strongest nations.

It is mainly aimed at the Six Nations teams - England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, France and Italy - and the southern hemisphere giants, New Zealand, South Africa and Australia, plus Argentina, who will join the Tri-Nations in 2012.

However, the IRB is also keen to involve the game's lesser powers and tours by northern hemisphere sides are planned to the Pacific Islands, North America and Japan.

England's trip to Australasia in June is a move towards a more traditional tour, with a 44-man party set to play five games, including two Tests against Australia, two mid-week games against the Australian Barbarians and a match against the New Zealand Maori.

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see also
England pick nine untried players
11 May 10 |  English
Powell back for Wales' June Tests
16 May 10 |  Welsh
Ferris set to miss Ireland tour
04 May 10 |  Rugby Union
Thompson named in Scotland squad
12 May 10 |  Scottish

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