A mouthwatering showdown between England and New Zealand will have to wait until 2018 after it was announced Wednesday that the Barbarians will play the world champion All Blacks at Twickenham on November 4.
England coach Eddie Jones had confirmed reports in the British media indicating that the Rugby Football Union, were keen to squeeze in a match between his Six Nations champions and New Zealand on that date.
But the invitational Barbarians, in a match marking their 125th anniversary, have now received approval from the RFU, English rugby union’s governing body, to play the All Blacks on November 4.
“The Barbarians approached the RFU last month with a request to stage this fixture at Twickenham and the request has been granted, replacing a Barbarians v Australia match previously approved,” said a Barbarians statement.
England are now not scheduled to play New Zealand until November 2018, with an RFU spokeswoman telling AFP that Wednesday’s announcement meant there was no chance of the two countries meeting later this year.
Their last clash was back in 2014, when New Zealand won 24-21 at Twickenham.
Several England players are, however, likely to face the All Blacks as part of the British and Irish Lions squad heading to New Zealand for a three-Test series in June and July.
England equalled New Zealand’s record of 18 successive Test victories by a ‘tier one’ or leading rugby union nation with victory over Scotland.
After that match, the Daily Mail reported that the RFU had approached their New Zealand counterparts about the prospect of a November 4 Test clash, although the paper highlighted tensions over how the gate receipts from a likely 82,000 sell-out crowd would be split.
– ‘All Blacks there for the taking’ –
England’s defeat of Scotland saw them retain their Six Nations title but their attempts to break New Zealand’s record and complete back-to-back Grand Slams foundered with a 13-9 loss to Ireland in Dublin on Saturday.
It was the Irish too who ended New Zealand’s run with a 40-29 win in Chicago in November.
Jones speaking after Saturday’s match in Dublin, the Australian’s first loss as England coach, said of the Lions’ prospects of a first series win in New Zealand since 1971 that the All Blacks were “there for the taking”.
England are already due to play Australia, Argentina and Samoa in November this year.
Adding another Test to the autumn international calendar led to concerns over player welfare, with England’s Premiership Rugby, which represents the country’s top 12 clubs, reportedly against releasing players for an additional fixture outside of World Rugby’s November international ‘window’ without significant compensation.
Meanwhile the Mail reported Wednesday that NZRU chief executive Steve Tew wanted the All Blacks to play the Barbarians on November 4 rather than face England outside of the ‘window’. – Agence France-Presse