Eng­land to play All Blacks in 2018 af­ter four-year wait

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Eng­land will face the All Blacks for the first time in four years in the stand­out fix­ture of next year’s au­tumn Test se­ries as they build to­wards the 2019 Rugby World Cup. Ed­die Jones’s side will also face the two other south­ern hemi­sphere gi­ants, Aus­tralia and South Africa, as well as Ja­pan, giv­ing a good gauge of their strength in the run-up to the four-yearly show­piece in Ja­pan. Due to a quirk of the in­ter­na­tional fix­ture list, Eng­land have not played New Zealand since 2014 — a frus­trat­ing hia­tus that led to aborted at­tempts to ar­range a match this au­tumn.

In 2014 Eng­land lost four times to the All Blacks, in­clud­ing a three-Test se­ries in New Zealand. They last beat their ri­vals in 2012. Eng­land, sec­ond in the in­ter­na­tional rank­ings be­hind the All Blacks, have won 19 of their 20 Tests un­der head coach Ed­die Jones, fac­ing all ma­jor na­tions ex­cept Steve Hansen’s All Blacks dur­ing that run. “We will have to work hard and be smart in what we do to bridge the gap be­tween us and the All Blacks,” said Jones, who wants Eng­land to be the world’s top team go­ing into the World Cup.

“The 2018 se­ries is in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant for Eng­land as we build to­wards the World Cup,” he added. “We want to win that se­ries 4-0 and we will need to play ex­tremely well to beat four very good teams over a four­week pe­riod. “The se­ries will give us a re­ally good in­di­ca­tor of where we are as a squad a year out from the World Cup and gives us a real fo­cus on what we have to do over the next 12 months to be ready for that se­ries and win.”

Eng­land will host South Africa at Twick­en­ham Sta­dium on Novem­ber 3 in the first match of the 2018 se­ries. They play the All Blacks on Novem­ber 10, Ja­pan on Novem­ber 17 and Aus­tralia on Novem­ber 24. — AFP

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