Traditional tours are back on the international calendar after the International Rugby Board Council approved a new global 10-year playing schedule for the run up to Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan.

The schedule, which commences in 2012, will lead to more meaningful tests between SANZAR and Six Nations Unions during the June window with teams from the northern and southern hemispheres touring on a rotational basis.

Most years within the schedule will involve a two or three-test series against only one visiting nation in June, with midweek matches also set to be incorporated at the agreement of the respective Unions, the IRB said in a statement issued today.

There will also be more involvement for the Pacific Islands, North America and Japan

"The approval of this new global schedule represents an historic landmark for the game and is the culmination of extensive work that kicked off at the Woking Forum in 2007 where the global Rugby family committed to finding an appropriate schedule that adds value to the June window, provides the catalyst for the growth of our sport and is acceptable to all major stakeholders," said IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset.

"The development of a global schedule is not an easy task.

"I would like to thank all the Unions for their full collaboration and commitment to drafting a schedule that is in the best interests of the game.

"Specific tours will be announced by the respective Unions, as per usual commercial practice.

- AAP