Sport

New calendar to boost tier-two nations

New calendar to boost tier-two nations

Mehrtens' controversial views come in the wake of speculation emanating from New Zealand, which suggests that SANZAR are looking to drop three franchises from the current Super rugby format, two from South Africa and one from Australia.

World Rugby has promised more tests between top and second-tier nations and announced changes to the timing of worldwide windows in a new global calendar to run from 2020 to 2032.

The year after a Rugby World Cup, any tours to SANZAAR unions will comprise of two rather than three test matches.

World Rugby made the decision on Thursday to shift the June worldwide window back a month to July after 2019, allowing the Super Rugby competition to wrap up in June without a month-long break.

"This is an excellent outcome for New Zealand with Super Rugby able to run without the disruptive June break, and provides the optimum preparation for the July worldwide window", New Zealand Rugby (NZR) chief executive Steve Tew said on Friday.

Emerging rugby powers will be integrated into the July and November test windows while there has also ben a commitment given that France and England will tour the Pacific Islands and that the USA, Canada and Japan will receive incoming tours from Tier One nations.

"National unions have worked hard to agree this calendar which gives us great long term certainty around our global fixtures".


"We now have certainty with a 10 year programme of July tours already agreed including three British and Irish Lions series", Tew said. When the national squad players return from touring in late July, they are entitled to a month or so off, thus putting back the start of their pre-season training until late August early September.

Mehrtens, born in South Africa, was part of the much-lauded All Blacks team which finished as runners-up in the 1995 Rugby World Cup, losing narrowly to the Springboks in the final at Ellis Park.

Bill Beaumont, World Rugby chairman, described the agreement as an historic milestone for the global game.

But it is the increase of exposure for second-tier nations that will provide the biggest potential shake-up to the game. The concession on that front is that in that post-World Cup year the north will only play two Tests on their trips south in July, with the third spot to be filled by a tier two nation, such as Fiji, Georgia, or the United States.

Six Nations unions must collectively host a guaranteed minimum of six tier two fixtures in each November window.

"This process has been complex and there was no silver bullet".

"The entire process was carried out with a strong spirit of collaboration between all nations and like in any agreement, there were compromises that each nation had to make in order to reach an outcome that will benefit the game as a whole".


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