England to tour Pacific Islands as World Rugby reveals new global calendar

England v Fiji in 2016
England beat Fiji 58-15 at Twickenham in November

England and France will tour the Pacific Islands as part of World Rugby's new global calendar from 2020.

The changes fall short of a fully global season but the northern and southern hemisphere schedules have been more closely aligned.

It means tier-two nations - such as Fiji, Japan and Georgia - will get more chance to play the world's elite teams.

There will be fewer matches, particularly in the year after a World Cup, but the Six Nations is unchanged.

The BBC reported exclusively on the draft proposals back in September, and the final agreement is very similar to that first revealed on this website.

World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont had suggested in May that the annual Six Nations Championship could move to April to help ease pressure on the calendar.

A world in union?
Tier-one nations Tier-two nations include
AustraliaCanada
ArgentinaFiji
EnglandGeorgia
FranceJapan
IrelandNamibia
ItalyRomania
New ZealandSamoa
ScotlandTonga
South AfricaUnited States
WalesUruguay

It will instead remain in its traditional February-March slot, although discussions continue about changing the length of the tournament.

The five rounds are currently spread over seven weeks with two 'rest' weekends.

As well as France and England's tours of the Pacific Islands, Georgia and Romania have been guaranteed home matches against Six Nations teams each July.

The Six Nations teams will also collectively guarantee a minimum of six matches against tier-two opposition during each set of autumn internationals.

World Rugby's plan sets out a minimum of 110 matches between tier-one and tier-two nations between 2020 and 2032, which it claims is an increase of 39% on the previous schedule.

England v Fiji in 1991
England last played in the Pacific Islands in 1991 when they beat Fiji 28-12 in Suva

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