This time last year the All Blacks were limping home after their longest tour in 45 years. Bubbles, masks and testing were the order of the day as the mentally fried team was yearning for home after three months. The beneficiaries were Ireland and France, who put the cleaners through the forwards and punched holes in the backline defence. Now lying in wait for the somewhat fresher All Blacks will be England, thirsting for a sixth victory over the men in black at what some call the ‘Home of Rugby’.
This is Eddie Jones’ England, who, lest we forget, bruised and squeezed the All Blacks into submission at the 2019 Rugby World Cup. They almost did the same 12 months earlier at Twickenham, when it needed two second-half goals, including one pot, by Beauden Barrett, for the All Blacks to lift the Hillary Shield 16-15. At the time of writing, the All Blacks were ranked No 4 and England No 5, but that kinda doesn’t feel quite right. Both should be at least a place higher, certainly ahead of South Africa.
If the All Blacks can sweep their northern tour, they will finish with a 9-4 record in 2022, which is hardly what they or their fans would expect, but looks rather better than 1-3 after the first four Test matches of this yo-yo season. England, realistically and despite the travails of Tokyo, is the sole side capable of tipping up the men in black, with all due respect to Wales, which is seeking to exorcise a 69-year ghost, and Scotland, which just wants a historic victory to hang its hat on for all time. England will be coming off Tests against Argentina and Japan, which should act as a decent warm-up to the final weekend of the autumn international window,
but one which assumes vital importance less than 12 months out from the Rugby World Cup in France. Twickenham is one of the great stadia of the rugby world, but it has hardly been a fortress for the home side, as the stats below indicate. Seeking some historical context, we bring you seven of these clashes down the years. They won’t include Duncan McGregor’s four tries in 1905, as that was played at Crystal Palace, before Twickers was a thing, nor Johnno’s punch on Marshy in 1997, as that happened at Old Trafford in the only two-Test series between the All Blacks and England in the UK...
Continue this story in our November 22 issue – on shelves now!