Lions tours shortened as English rugby calendar restructured
LONDON (AP) British and Irish Lions tours will be reduced to eight matches over five weeks as part of a restructuring of English rugby's domestic calendar that is attempting to improve player welfare and better align the northern and southern hemisphere seasons.
From the 2019-20 season, the domestic league campaign will now run from mid-September to mid-June - an extension of the previous calendar - apart from Rugby World Cup years, but will include in-season breaks and players will be limited to a maximum of 35 "match involvements" per season. A "match involvement" counts as 20 or more minutes.
There will be a mandatory five-week post-season rest for all players, comprising two weeks of absolute rest and three weeks of active rest. Summer tours by England's national team, previously held in June, will take place in July.
Lions tours have been shortened from their current length of six weeks, containing 10 matches.
A number of England stars had warned of a possible strike if their concerns over workload were not addressed.
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Updated October 23, 2018