Rugby’s major stakeholders have met in London this week to discuss the future global calendar for each of the women’s and men’s game.

The group included International Rugby Players, World Rugby, the British and Irish Lions, the major international competitions including Six Nations and The Rugby Championship, along with the unions and professional leagues and competitions in the women’s and men’s games.

The whole-sport group continue to be united in their commitment to optimising the global calendars to prioritise player welfare, and accelerate global growth in content, opportunity, relevance and value by better aligning the annual domestic and international environments, also boosting player and fan experience.

Central to the development of the men’s calendar is optimising player release for players moving between the club and international environments, overall welfare optimisation including rest periods, and a greater level of clarity around fixtures for High-Performance Unions and emerging nations including with the Six Nations and SANZAAR teams.

Planning includes the establishment of a two-division international competition the men’s game operating across the July and November windows outside of Rugby World Cup and British and Irish Lions years. All stakeholders are motivated by the opportunity for more teams to advance on the world stage, ultimately leading to more competitive Rugby World Cups. This mission is underpinned by the principle of promotion and relegation between the divisions, which reflects the vision of a global game. There is also a review of Regulation 9 which will look to reflect the new calendar and address issues relating to the release of players for international matches.

Much more work is required and is being driven towards decisions on the international global season structure being taken by the World Rugby Council at its interim meeting in Paris in October.