New ten-year Rugby Union test series announced

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Indy Lifestyle Online

The International Rugby Board has heralded a return to the grand Rugby Union tours of years gone by, as a Six Nations side from the northern hemisphere will visit their SANZAR counterparts each June from 2012 onwards.

Instead of the special occasion test matches that have been usual fare over the past 15 years, a squad from England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France, or Italy will travel to South Africa, New Zealand and Australia and take part ina  three-test series.

Argentina are another possible host for the tours, with the increasing likelihood that the Tier 1 country will join the established SANZAR teams to form an expanded Four Nations southern hemisphere group.

The new schedule also means that the IRB's six Tier 2 teams - Canada, USA, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Romania, and Japan - are also free to organize crowd-pleasing matches against the ten Tier 1, while those northern hemisphere nations also have the option to add in mid-week games against club teams.

South Africa have been the first IRB member union to publicize their own hosting plans. In 2012 they will accommodate England, before welcoming Ireland in 2016 and France in 2017.