London - England
could play New Zealand a year earlier than scheduled if they can get an
agreement to face the world champions at Twickenham on November 4, the
Daily Mail reported on Wednesday.
A quirk of the international fixture schedule means that New Zealand
and England - the top two teams in the world rankings - are not
currently due to meet again until 2018.
But the prospect of New Zealand playing England before then has been
given added spice by the knowledge that a victory for already-crowned
Six Nations champions England against Ireland in Dublin on Saturday
would see them surpass the All Blacks' record of 18 successive Test wins
by a major rugby union side.
However, England have not faced New Zealand during their winning run,
with their last match against the All Blacks a 24-21 loss at Twickenham
New Zealand are due to play the Barbarians at Twickenham on November 4
in a match marking the invitational club's 125th anniversary.
But according to the Mail, Ian Ritchie - the chief executive of
England's governing Rugby Football Union - is lobbying to get the All
Blacks to face England on that date instead.
The Mail added that the major sticking point was over how the money
generated from a likely 82 000 sell-out crowd would be divided, with the
New Zealand Rugby Union - well aware of the All Blacks' worth -
reportedly seeking a 50 percent share of the gate receipts, a figure
equating to £3 million from the RFU,
the world's wealthiest rugby union.
An RFU spokesperson told Britain's Press Association on Wednesday: "We
are scheduled to play New Zealand in 2018 and if an opportunity came up
to play them before then we would pursue it."
England are already due to face Argentina, Australia and Samoa at Twickenham in November.