Six Nations unchanged in international rugby calendar shake-up

Bill Beaumont and vice-chairman Agustin Pichot
World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont and vice-chairman Agustin Pichot have led negotiations

Rugby administrators worldwide are nearing an agreement on a new rugby union calendar, which will come into effect after the World Cup in 2019.

The BBC has learned there will be fewer international matches, with summer tours set to be scrapped at least once per four-year cycle.

The Six Nations will not move from its traditional February to March slot.

The British and Irish Lions series and the World Cup will retain their places in the calendar.

The Lions are set to tour in July and August in 2021.

Changes at a glance

  • Summer tours set to be scrapped after World Cup years
  • Premiership and Pro12 to start later and finish later, at end of June
  • Super Rugby in southern hemisphere to finish at similar time
  • Six Nations and World Cup unaffected

World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont and vice-chairman Agustin Pichot have been leading negotiations, with the changes expected to be ratified at the next council meeting at the end of November.

While a full-on global season is not feasible, there is confidence the new calendar will see a greater alignment between the two hemispheres.

Under the proposals, the Premiership and Pro12 leagues would start later and then would finish at the end of June, with the Super Rugby competition in the southern hemisphere ending at a similar time.

There is also a determination to have less overlap between international rugby and domestic tournaments, which is currently a point of consternation among clubs in Europe.

Meanwhile, sources have indicated that emerging nations such as Japan and USA will benefit from an increase in matches against tier-one teams.

With player welfare said to be central to the discussions, summer tours are likely to be scrapped the season after a Rugby World Cup to enable a longer rest and recovery period for international players.

England head coach Eddie Jones told BBC Sport: "We [RFU] have had a number of discussions and obviously there are certain views we think are right for world rugby. I don't think there are ever going to be massive changes in the schedule.

"Things are locked in by tradition, and rightful tradition, so I think there are some cosmetic changes that can be made that can make the yearly schedule better for the players and better for the northern and southern hemisphere countries."

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