England to tackle All Blacks

England will mark the opening of the new South Stand at Twickenham with a match against New Zealand on November 5. [more]

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England will mark the opening of the new South Stand at Twickenham with a match against New Zealand on November 5.

The Rugby Football Union confirmed the clash against the All Blacks, the Tri-Nations champions who top the world rankings, will kick off England’s autumn internationals.

After the New Zealand encounter, which will be screened live on BBC1, Andy Robinson’s side will face Argentina on November 11 and then play back-to-back games against South Africa.

The RFU have yet to finalise an agreement with the Guinness Premiership clubs over player release for the All Blacks showdown, which falls outside the traditional window for November Tests.

But chief executive Francis Baron is confident of reaching an agreement with the clubs over player availability and insists the workload of those selected for England will not be increased.

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Baron said: "Player release for this game is covered by the long form agreement and no elite player squad player will play more than the allowed 10 Test matches in the year.

"We have made proposals to Premier Rugby aimed at ensuring there is no damage to the Premiership and we hope to reach an accommodation with them."

England head coach Robinson welcomed the extra match to celebrate the unveiling of the new £100million stand and revealed no player would be asked to play all four autumn internationals.

He said: "As a player and a coach you want to take on the best and, at the moment, that’s New Zealand.

"Those four matches, against the number-one side in the world, then Argentina – who are now a real force in world rugby – and South Africa will be a huge test for us but one we will relish.

"I’m looking forward to having the sufficient preparation time before playing a team of New Zealand’s calibre.

"As was shown before we beat Australia last November, there is no substitute for having that time with the players.

"In addition, as we are playing four back-to-back Tests, it will be my aim in selection that any particular player will only start three out of the four matches."

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