All Blacks chose Barbarians over England
THE All Blacks will play the Barbarians at Twickenham on November 4 after the rugby world champions chose to avoid a Test showdown with England.
New Zealand Rugby had reportedly come in for a mega-offer from England's Rugby Football Union to take part in the Test, with the two unions to share any revenue earned.
Eddie Jones' Six Nations champions, who recently won 18 Tests on the trot, had hoped to play the All Blacks in a northern tour Test arranged at short notice.
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.
But it appears NZR has eschewed its English counterpart's offer, sticking to its original agreement to take on the Barbarians.
The London-based invitational side has received RFU approval to mark its 125th anniversary with a match against New Zealand.
It will be the Kiwi side's first match at Twickenham since its 34-17 win over Australia in the 2015 Rugby World Cup final.
"We explored whether there was an opportunity to play New Zealand this year, but they have chosen to play the Barbarians,” an RFU spokesperson said.
The fixture between the Baabaas and the All Blacks still requires the approval of the New Zealand board, but is highly likely to be approved.
The Barbarians received clearance to stage the fixture from the RFU on Wednesday after approaching the organising body last month.
Barbarians chairman John Spencer thanked the RFU for giving the fixture the green light, replacing a previously approved match against Australia.
He dismissed allegations the RFU had threatened to veto the Barbarians fixture altogether if not granted a Test against the All Blacks.
"For the record, and contrary to some recent media reports, the Barbarians have a strong and very collaborative relationship with the RFU,” Spencer said.
"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 also play Ulster on June 1.
Departing Scotland head coach Vern Cotter will take charge of the team for those fixtures, with the coach for the All Blacks match still unknown.
The All Blacks will follow up the Barbarians match with northern tour Tests against France, Scotland and Wales.
They'll also take on a number of Jones' troops in this year's British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand.
England and the All Blacks are already locked in for a Test in 2018.