18 May 2010

IRB approve return of tours

10:07 am on 18 May 2010

The International Rugby Board council has approved a new decade-long playing schedule that will place a renewed emphasis on traditional tours involving the top Test sides.

The new calendar, which will begin in 2012, is designed to provide more "meaningful" meetings between southern hemisphere and Six Nations countries.

The IRB plan to have northern hemisphere sides touring their southern hemisphere counterparts on a rotational basis in June, with each host nation playing a two or three-Test series against one touring side in the November window.

There will also be a move back to midweek tour matches, a feature which has fallen out of vogue in the professional era.

In addition to these changes the IRB also outlined a commitment to developing second-tier nations, with return tours planned to the Pacific Islands, North America and 2019 World Cup hosts Japan.