Tuesday 21 November 2017

All Blacks turn down the chance to play England at Twickenham in November

England head coach Eddie Jones
England head coach Eddie Jones

Matt McGeehan

New Zealand will play the Barbarians at Twickenham on November 4 after the world champions opted not to face England instead.

Eddie Jones' RBS 6 Nations champions had hoped to play the All Blacks in an Autumn Test arranged at short notice.

But the Barbarians, an invitational side, have received Rugby Football Union approval to play New Zealand at the venue where they retained the world title in October 2015.

A RFU spokesperson said: "We explored whether there was an opportunity to play New Zealand this year, but they have chosen to play the Barbarians."

England and the All Blacks last met in November 2014 and Jones had hoped his improving side could test themselves against the world's top team.

Some members of Jones' squad will play the All Blacks in June and July, when the British and Irish Lions tour New Zealand for a three-Test series.

England equalled New Zealand's 18-Test winning run with victory over Scotland earlier this month, but defeat to Ireland in Dublin last Saturday denied Jones' men successive Grand Slams and a top-tier record 19th successive win. It was the first loss of Jones' reign.

Ireland also ended New Zealand's 18-Test winning streak with victory in Chicago last November.

The fixture between the Baabaas and the All Blacks still requires the approval of the New Zealand board.

The Barbarians said in a statement: "The Barbarian FC today received approval from the RFU to stage the Barbarians v New Zealand match at Twickenham on November 4, 2017.

"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."

Barbarians chairman John Spencer said: "The entire Barbarians committee would like to thank the RFU for approving this fixture against New Zealand.

"For the record, and contrary to some recent media reports, the Barbarians have a strong and very collaborative relationship with the RFU, and any suggestion that the RFU has not acted correctly in any part of the discussions around staging this fixture is unfair and wrong."

The Baabaas have played New Zealand 10 times since 1954, most memorably when Gareth Edwards' try contributed to a 23-11 win in Cardiff in 1973.

The Barbarians are next in action against England at Twickenham on May 28 and play Ulster on June 1.

Departing Scotland head coach Vern Cotter takes charge of the team for those fixtures.

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