Veitch: All Blacks won't face EnglandSave
By Tony Veitch
Mark it down right here, right now, unless the Rugby Football Union is prepared to front up with an extraordinary 11th hour offer, England against the All Blacks is just going to have to wait.
It's off the table in 2017. From my understanding, New Zealand Rugby has signed a sealed the deal to play the Barbarians on November 4.
Which means the All Blacks' northern tour will read this way: France, Scotland, Wales and the Baa Baas.
Sorry Eddie Jones but as much as you play the media game to perfection by suggesting the All Blacks are ripe for the picking, and despite your boys losing to Ireland, the verbal barbs will have to wait another year.
That's not to say the past two weeks of speculation has not been great for rugby and fantastic for the world game.
Cast your mind back to last year.
The All Blacks marched through the Rugby Championship, showing imperious form with 40-point hammerings the norm.
The general reaction of most was that while the All Blacks deserved every accolade to come their way, if South Africa and Australia are getting blown off the park, then the world game is in big trouble.
Steve Hansen implored the rest of the world's tier one nations to 'lift their games'.
Eddie Jones responded in kind.
He's given us a reason to feel some real animosity and, to some degree, self-doubt about our position atop the world rankings.
Are we really the best rugby team on the planet? Especially if England did manage to break the record and win 19 straight?
All of those emotions are good things.
One passionate Kiwi rugby fan told me on social media during the week that they didn't give a stuff about a winning record.
"Back to back World Champs thank you very much, no other measure needed."
But, am I disappointed, or even gutted, there will be no heavyweight showdown in November?
Let me answer that in two ways.
Sure, it would've been a magnificent Twickenham occasion, almost in the bucket list category, and worth a cheap airfare to London.
But, what all of us have missed is what the Barbarians could bring to the table.
Now we all know the proud history and the famous upsets by this team.
But, it's fair to say in recent years they've been cannon fodder, filled with second stringers on a mighty good pay day.
How about this in November then?
Pause and think about how much New Zealand and ex-All Black talent is currently on show in the North.
Blokes by the name of Dan Carter, Ma'a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Charles Piutau and Joe Rokocoko.
Can you just imagine those match ups?
Beauden Barrett versus Carter would be brilliant sporting theatre.
Here's the great unknown though...and it ties into why the All Blacks have such a lasting legacy and culture of success.
Would those guys, who've built their careers, reputations and livelihoods on the All Black jersey want to face off against it?
That I don't know.
Sure, the cash would be appealing, but it's not like they need it.
Speaking with a couple of former All Blacks last night, they would say no.
It's just not how the All Black club works.
Remember that saying, 'Once an All Black, always an All Black'?
But All Black legend takes that discussion to an entirely different level.
Won't it be interesting though, when those approaches are made?
With so many top shelf Australian and South African players now plying their trade in the North, even if many All Blacks greats say no to facing off against the haka, there may be plenty of other guys read to take up the challenge.
Watch this space.