All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, has hit out at the Six Nations for not facilitating more England versus New Zealand matches due to their failure to back World Rugby's plan for a Nations Championship that would have seen annual fixtures between the countries.

Much as Hansen is relishing the fact that rarity value has brought added spice to Saturday's World Cup semifinal between the two countries, the New Zealander would love to see more games played between two of the game's heavyweights.

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The semi-final in Yokohama will be only the second time the two teams have met since 2014, the All Blacks coming out on top by the narrowest of margins, 16-15, at Twickenham last year. There have only been eight encounters this decade, four of them occurring in 2014.

The blueprint for a Nations Championship was rejected by the Six Nations committee who were against the concept of promotion and relegation and preferred to do their own commercial deals. The fall-out from that breach has seen other unions out under financial strain.

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All Blacks coach Steve Hansen during his press conference in Tokyo, Japan: Photo / Mark Mitchell
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen during his press conference in Tokyo, Japan: Photo / Mark Mitchell

"We've played England once in the last six seasons so it's hard to build a rivalry when you don't play each other," said Hansen. "If we could get the Six Nations to come on board for a global season, we'd be able to do that. Once they do that, then they're starting to think about the game rather than just themselves."

More regular fixtures would certainly keep the treasurers happy as it has blue-chip status in the ticketing as well as hospitality markets. There is also a rich history of big match-ups, be it their 1995 World Cup semi-final in Cape Town when Jonah Lomu rode roughshod over English dreams or, more recently, England's bracing 38-21 win at Twickenham when Manu Tuilagi did a mini-Jonah in leading the charge to victory. New Zealand hold the whip hand in wins by some distance.

There is little doubt, though, that there is a resonance to England versus New Zealand encounters, one that is mirrored in more recent times in cricket with the heroics of the World Cup final between the two countries still fresh in people's minds. There could even be a replay of the extreme circumstances of that dramatic day at Lord's in July when the two teams meet at Yokohama.

Hansen will have his team rehearsing all the extra-time scenarios that might play out on Saturday if the scores are level at the end of normal time and the World Cup rugby semi-final moves towards the same nerve-shredding finale that was seen during the World Cup cricket final when England got the better of New Zealand by the narrowest of margins.

The dramatic denouement to that match, with the two sides technically still level even after a Super Over but declared winners on a count-back of boundaries scored, could play out again in Yokohama given that England and the All Blacks are so evenly matched.

Steve Hansen talks to future Irish coach Andy Farrell: Photo / AP
Steve Hansen talks to future Irish coach Andy Farrell: Photo / AP

The regulations state that ten minutes each way will be played followed by a sudden death of 10 ten minutes if the scores are still level. Following that there is a kicking contest at goal with five nominated players taking kicks from three different and increasingly difficult positions on the 22.

It's a long, drawn-out process and although Hansen deems it 'unlikely,' that it would ever come to pass, he did acknowledge with reference to the cricket World Cup that ' funnier things have happened, eh?'

"Have we prepared for it? We know those are the rules, so, yes," said Hansen. "You'd be foolish if you hadn't prepared for it. I would be highly surprised if it happens given that we have 80 minutes, then ten minutes each way, then sudden death extra time by which time there will be bugger all people standing.

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But funnier things have happened, eh? Mind you, I don't know if they got the cricket one right really (as New Zealand lost on a technicality with the rules subsequently changed.")


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