Sports

Brexit schmexit: England must put aside its differences to make an All Blacks test happen

Out of nowhere, England are challenging the All Blacks for the title of ‘Best Side in Rugby’. Rugby bosses need to strike while the iron’s hot and schedule an emergency test match between the two sides, writes Jamie Wall.

Even if you’ve been saving for an Auckland house by giving up Sky, you’ll know there’s only two good teams in international rugby right now: the All Blacks and England. The Wallabies are wallowing in a deep pit of despair both on and off the field after suffering pitiless emotional abuse from their former coach, the evil genius Eddie Jones. The Springboks barely beat the dessicated carcass of Ireland’s top team. Wales’ forlorn dreams of past glory got a mudhole stomped in them so ruthlessly on their NZ tour that they’re quite possibly gone for good this time.

THE WELSH GAZING UP AT THEIR FORMER DREAMS. PHOTO: GETTY

THE WELSH GAZING UP AT THEIR FORMER DREAMS. PHOTO: GETTY

In a perfect world, New Zealand would be squaring off against the Brexit brigade later this year, in a match aimed at settling the debate about whether they’ve been supplanted at the top of rugby’s pecking order. Instead the World Champions are taking on Ireland, France and (sigh) Italy on their end-of-year tour. This should not pass. Rugby bosses need to stop this travesty and squeeze England into the schedule.

Of course, tours are scheduled almost a year in advance. After England’s embarrassing World Cup performance, the powers-that-be shouldn’t be ashamed for not knowing that the old country would bounce back to relevance so quickly.

And I’m under no illusions. A 2016 All Blacks/England test has about as much chance of taking place as Dylan Hartley and Wayne Barnes exchanging Christmas cards. But when you look at the dumpster fire that’s probably going to take place instead, it becomes clear that rugby bosses need to go to extreme lengths to make this test happen.

In November, the All Blacks play Ireland twice. One of these is a thinly veiled advertisement for AIG in Chicago, but the test in Dublin should be pretty good because we all remember what happened last time they played there. France (presumably in Paris), should be another good test.

But Italy? Really? There has only ever been one remotely interesting test involving these two countries, a mere 25 years ago. Other than that, the only highlights between the two nations have been this famous try and this horrible touch judge call.

It’s also a historical fact that England can’t keep up this sort of form. They may be looking like world-beaters now, but they should run out of steam by the end of next year’s Six Nations. Just look at the record books:

Given the English propensity to lose grip on reality almost immediately after their attaining any level of success, it’s important the All Blacks take the team on sometime this year. A New Zealand victory would halt the 2016 England side’s ascent to semi-legendary status, preventing the unseemly spectacle of old men in 2064 space pubs telling youths ‘the 2016 England squad would have beaten them’ while watching their team getting walloped by one of their former colonies. Meanwhile, an English victory would validate their confidence, and ensure Eddie Jones is knighted, gifted lands and titles, and anointed an honorary member of the British royal family.

The mostly highly attended All Black test played in Italy was such an affront to rugby union, it’s only fair that both sets of fans unite to have this match rescheduled at Twickenham against the English. It may seem like a futile effort, but at least England has had a wealth of experience in such matters lately.

The Spinoff Longform Fund is dedicated to facilitating investigative journalism. Our focus is on supporting in-depth reporting on important New Zealand stories. Your donation will help us sustain this most resource-intensive form of journalism, ensuring that the most complex and important stories still get told.