Sanzar officials look set to push for a global rugby season at an International Rugby Board meeting next month that could see major in and out-bound tours played in an "international window" in June and July.

Under the proposed structure, end-of-season tours are to be scrapped and there will be a minimum of eight weeks' rest for players in the off-season.

The season will start off with the Super 12 - possibly to be expanded to a Super 14 from 2003 - which will run until June.

The international window and the Tri-Nations will follow this, with provincial competitions - such as the NPC - set to conclude the season in late November.

South Africa and Australia's hopes of convincing fellow Sanzar partner New Zealand to accept an expanded Super 12 could well hinge on them attaining the restructure.

Importantly, that will require the backing of the northern hemisphere unions.

It will also have to be ratified by the IRB council in November.

New Zealand Rugby Football Union chief executive officer Dave Rutherford said failure to attain a restructured season would not necessarily mean that they withdraw their backing for an expanded Super 12.

They have, however, raised concerns.

"We are certain that we are working towards the same agenda," said Rutherford.

"Sarfu and the Australian Rugby Union were concerned that we were opposed to a Super 14. It is not true that we are looking for reasons to oppose it."

The NZRFU believe that a successful domestic competition is of paramount importance to the sport in New Zealand.

Rutherford was confident that they could get northern hemisphere backing for a restructured season.

"It doesn't mean they will have to play the Six Nations in the international window. They can still play it at the same time as it is now," he said.

The NZRFU will hold a special board meeting today that is likely to spell out their final conditions for expansion to Sanzar.

- INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS (SOUTH AFRICA)