English verdict: What would happen if England played All Blacks?

The England Rugby Union are discussing the possibility of a test against the All Blacks in November, a year ahead of schedule. How would the game pan out?

Six London Telegraph rugby writers offered their predictions:

'England would acquit themselves well'

Firstly, the match should not take place. It is a betrayal of player welfare issues and reduces international rugby to a circus. The fixture list is not there to be gerrymandered. One of the principal objections is that England's Lions' players will be in no fit state to give of their best in a four-test autumn, even if this putative fixture would be the first on the schedule. If the contest is to have merit, then it needs to have proper preparation.

That said, England would acquit themselves well. As they have shown, they have depth and they have a hard edge. The forward pack has great all-round clout while the George Ford and Owen Farrell axis can play in any number of ways.

New Zealand, though, possess a more potent counter-attacking punch through the likes of Ben Smith and Julian Savea with Beauden Barrett a direct threat himself at fly-half.

The two teams are well-matched and England's home advantage might just tilt the balance.

Mick Cleary

'A fixture straight from boxing's play book'

New Zealand never turn a down a big pay day - and this proposed fixture is straight from boxing's play book. The two heavyweights are being brought together early for a 'decider' that could generate good income for both countries.

Except that it's not a decider. That could only come at the 2019 World Cup in Japan. Plainly there is a desire for to England measure themselves against the No 1 team in the world after 18 wins. On Six Nations form - the Scotland game aside - England would be clear second favourites. The idea is harmless enough, provided England's schedule is not distorted for commercial reasons.

But this is a glimpse of the future.
-Paul Hayward

'The timing would suit the All Blacks'

The timing of the proposed match, on November 4, would hugely work in New Zealand's favour. The All Blacks would have been playing together for the best part of six months through the Lions series and the Rugby Championship while Eddie Jones will be reassembling a team for the first time since the June Tests in Argentina.

Undoubtedly he would also be missing three or four starters to long-term injuries given the attrition rate from previous Lions tours. For that reason I cannot foresee anything other than a comfortable New Zealand victory.

If the match was shifted to the end of the autumn series when England will have had time to build some new combinations then it would be harder to call, but even on a level footing the All Blacks are stronger man for man. Come 2019, when it really matters, that may be different.
-Daniel Schofield

'England might just do it'

There is a distinctly boxing feel to this. As if the two big fighters in the world are finally planning to meet each other. If the match is made perhaps they should put it on Pay Per View, with Michael Buffer calling the teams out on to the pitch?

Of course, so much can and will happen between now and November; not least the Lions Tour to New Zealand which could have a huge impact on any Test between the top two ranked teams in the world. But right now, I would just about say England because they are at home and Ireland proved the All Blacks are vulnerable at the end of the season.

I'm not sure what the result would mean, however. The big one is 2 November, 2019 in Yokohama. If they're that good, they will be both be in that World Cup final. And then we shall see.
-James Corrigan

'All Blacks can play a brand England can only aspire to'

Depends which New Zealand turns up. If it's the one we saw in Chicago last autumn, who conceded five tries in a first ever defeat by Ireland, who played Jerome Kaino in the second row as they were without their usual locks Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock, then England stand an excellent chance.

If it's the team who turned up in Dublin for the rematch and refused to lose, flying into every tackle as if their lives depended on it, prepared to push the laws as far as they could, it would be more of an even contest. At their best New Zealand are still capable of playing a brand of rugby England can only aspire to.

And man for man there are probably only a handful of England players who would make a combined XV; Maro Itoje, Billy Vunipola, Elliot Daly, Owen Farrell. But home advantage counts for a lot. In New Zealand the All Blacks would be favourites no question. At Twickenham, I would currently back Eddie Jones to mastermind a win.
-Tom Cary

'It's too soon for England'

First things first, this match shouldn't happen this year. We've got a Lions tour to New Zealand this summer and we don't need the added circus, and distraction, of a shoehorned top-two contest that reeks of money.

On top of that, should England play New Zealand this year, even at Twickenham, I think they'd lose. England are good but they're not there yet. In a year's time they could be. In a year's time that winning run may have come to an end but these young players will be better, wiser and, by that stage, if they maintain this level of improvement, on a par with the All Blacks. Right now it's a year too early.

Lions tour this year, England against New Zealand next year and World Cup the year after. That is how it should be.
-Giles Mole

- Daily Telegraph UK

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