The shape of international rugby union could be dramatically altered by the coronavirus crisis, with RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney expecting the sport to emerge with "a blank sheet of paper".

England have extended the contract of head coach Eddie Jones until the end of the 2023 World Cup, a two-year increase on his existing deal, but on almost every other issue there is a profound uncertainty.

The finances of grassroots, professional and even international teams are likely to be stretched to breaking point by the lengthy pause caused by the pandemic and Sweeney admitted the situation might be showing up some harsh realities about the basic infrastructure of the game at large.

And when things return to a form of normality, there is a chance of considerable changes to the status quo.

"What's come out of this is an agreement between all the unions - north and south (hemisphere) and World Rugby to really start with a blank sheet of paper," said Sweeney.

"When you have a crisis of this nature and scale - and I don't think anybody could have predicted anything of this magnitude - it does highlight where you have fault lines and it does highlight where you can have some weaknesses. Some of those are being exposed now.

"A lot of conversations now are around 'how do we come out of this and emerge stronger?'. We don't want to just come back in and carry on with the same model, that just repeats the errors and the difficulties of the past, so there's a lot of really positive, productive conversations about how do we come out of this with rugby union in a better place, both domestically and also internationally.

"There's a whole list of things that we need to be looking at and working more closely together so that we can all realise the benefit.

"Those conversations have already kicked off and they kicked off fairly quickly."

The exact details of those talks remain unknown, possibly to be determined by the length of the hiatus and its eventual impact.

A more immediate issue surrounds the summer tours with Wales heading to New Zealand after a Test in Japan, which is England's destination.

With the Tokyo Olympics already pushed back a year it seems highly unlikely that tours will go ahead, with Sweeney revealing a final decision would be settled by the end of the month.

"I wouldn't say absolutely the tours are off. We've set ourselves a deadline, with World Rugby, for the end of April to make a decision on that one," he said.

"You'd probably say (postponement) is a strong possibility but it's slightly different to the Olympics. With the Olympics you've got, say, 11,000 athletes coming into Tokyo and different parts of the world at different stages in the crisis.

"These are exceptional times and there are God knows how many contingency plans should the July tours be off.

"It would be premature to say there are any favourite options among those but there are a number we are looking at."