England vs All Blacks: A clash of two under-fire head coaches?


England’s Eddie Jones and NZ’s Ian Foster enter Saturday knowing defeat will spell big pressure and criticism for one or the other; Ireland and a motivated Johnny Sexton seek to keep their good form going vs Australia; Scotland need a win to steady the ship and dampen sense of disarray

By Michael Cantillon

Last Updated: 17/11/22 10:14pm

England's Eddie Jones and Ian Foster's All Blacks meet at Twickenham on Saturday, with both in need of victory England's Eddie Jones and Ian Foster's All Blacks meet at Twickenham on Saturday, with both in need of victory

England’s Eddie Jones and Ian Foster’s All Blacks meet at Twickenham on Saturday, with both in need of victory

We look ahead to the weekend’s autumn internationals, as under-fire coaches meet when England take on New Zealand, Ireland look to keep their fine form going vs Australia and Scotland enter a big week vs Argentina…

England meet the All Blacks in a Test for the first time since the 2019 Rugby World Cup semi-final in Yokohama – almost certainly the scene of England’s finest day under Eddie Jones – in Saturday’s headline clash.

Elsewhere, Ireland round off their autumn schedule at home to Australia on Saturday in their first meeting since 2018, while Scotland entertain Argentina a week on from defeat to New Zealand.

Below, we look at some of the main talking points ahead of another significant weekend of Test rugby…

Follow Scotland vs Argentina, England vs New Zealand and Ireland vs Australia in our dedicated live blog on Skysports.com and the Sky Sports App throughout Saturday from 2.45pm

Jones vs Foster – the loser in for a wealth of pressure

England may have picked up a comfortable and largely dominant victory over Japan at Twickenham last week, but defeat on Saturday to New Zealand would put yet more pressure on head coach Jones.

A meek Six Nations showing in which they were beaten by Scotland, Ireland and France, and edged to victory at Twickenham past a poor Wales side, had many calling for the experienced Australian to step away pre-2023 Rugby World Cup.

Jones' England have finished fifth in the last two Six Nations campaigns (2022, 2021) Jones' England have finished fifth in the last two Six Nations campaigns (2022, 2021)

Jones’ England have finished fifth in the last two Six Nations campaigns (2022, 2021)

Part of those calls also came from the fact England finished fifth in the 2021 Six Nations as well, while an opening loss to Australia in England’s three-Test summer tour ratcheted up pressure once again, before two wins over the Wallabies and a 2-1 series win quietened those baying to a certain extent.

November began in the worst way possible, however, as defeat to Argentina at Twickenham for the first time in 16 years, and anywhere for 13 years, came as a huge shock, notwithstanding England’s inconsistency under Jones.

England’s Autumn Internationals

Sunday, November 6 England 29-30 Argentina
Saturday, November 12 England 52-13 Japan
Saturday, November 19 England vs New Zealand 5.30pm
Saturday, November 26 England vs South Africa 5.30pm

England began their autumn campaign with a shocking defeat to Argentina at Twickenham England began their autumn campaign with a shocking defeat to Argentina at Twickenham

England began their autumn campaign with a shocking defeat to Argentina at Twickenham

This weekend they face one of world rugby’s big hitters, as a seemingly re-energised New Zealand head to Twickenham intent on picking up a fourth victory this tour, after wins over Japan, Wales and Scotland.

The All Blacks have been beaten three times by Ireland in the last year, though – including twice at home – and have lost to France, Argentina and South Africa too.

The All Blacks have beaten Wales and Scotland so far on their tour of Europe, and beat Japan in Tokyo before that The All Blacks have beaten Wales and Scotland so far on their tour of Europe, and beat Japan in Tokyo before that

The All Blacks have beaten Wales and Scotland so far on their tour of Europe, and beat Japan in Tokyo before that

This is not the finest or most ominous All Blacks side England have welcomed, and, with that in mind, defeat is not something many will willingly explain away for Jones and co.

That is not to say the man at the helm of the opposite dugout arrives free of pressure either. Indeed, New Zealand head coach Ian Foster is not a man who looks to have a long-term future there.

The public in New Zealand have regularly called for his dismissal over the last period, particularly when three losses in a row arrived for the first time in 24 years over the summer (Ireland, Ireland, South Africa).

Foster has suffered defeats to Ireland (three), France, Argentina (two), South Africa (two) and Australia already in his three years in charge Foster has suffered defeats to Ireland (three), France, Argentina (two), South Africa (two) and Australia already in his three years in charge

Foster has suffered defeats to Ireland (three), France, Argentina (two), South Africa (two) and Australia already in his three years in charge

A win at Ellis Park over the Springboks, and stuttering subsequent Rugby Championship title success which included a first-ever defeat to the Pumas on home soil and a last-gasp win over Australia, appeared to save his job and grant him some time through to the World Cup.

New Zealand’s Autumn Internationals

Saturday, October 29 Japan 31-38 New Zealand
Saturday, November 5 Wales 23-55 New Zealand
Sunday, November 13 Scotland 23-31 New Zealand
Saturday, November 19 England vs New Zealand 5.30pm

That being said, all in New Zealand remain hurt from their last meeting with England in the men’s game in the semi-finals of the 2019 World Cup, when an inspired England knocked them out with a performance at levels almost no one predicted.

Foster says his side are “in a good space”, but there will be fierce criticism if they lose to this England side.

Will Ireland and Sexton keep form going to secure 100 per cent autumn return?

Ireland’s November has seen them beat South Africa and Fiji to date, coping admirably with injuries that have fallen their way, albeit head coach Andy Farrell was far from delighted with their performance in victory over Fiji.

Their schedule leaves them to face Dave Rennie’s Australia at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, themselves coming off the back of successive defeats to France and Italy – the latter for the first time in history – after a tight win over Scotland.

Ireland have beaten South Africa and Fiji in Dublin so far this month Ireland have beaten South Africa and Fiji in Dublin so far this month

Ireland have beaten South Africa and Fiji in Dublin so far this month

Indeed, Australia’s autumn has been one of fine margins: winning one Test by a single point 16-15, but losing two by a single point also: 30-29, 28-27.

Australia’s Autumn Internationals

Saturday, October 29 Scotland 15-16 Australia
Saturday, November 5 France 30-29 Australia
Saturday, November 12 Italy 28-27 Australia
Saturday, November 19 Ireland vs Australia 8pm
Saturday, November 26 Wales vs Australia 3.15pm

They head to Dublin for a first meeting with Ireland since June 2018 – when Ireland secured a 2-1 series victory on Aussie soil – and first in the Irish capital since November 2016, in a Test also won by Ireland.

Indeed, Australia have not won in Ireland since 2013, and have called on a far more experienced XV to take the pitch than the one which suffered defeat to Italy last time out.

Head coach Rennie says they are seeking a statement win: “I understand the fact that as head coach you’ve got to take things on the chin.

“It was our decision to pick that side last week and I still don’t have any regrets around the men we chose. I know we’ve got a very determined squad, we want to make a statement this weekend.”

Australia's Dave Rennie says his squad are out to 'make a statement' at the Aviva Stadium Australia's Dave Rennie says his squad are out to 'make a statement' at the Aviva Stadium

Australia’s Dave Rennie says his squad are out to ‘make a statement’ at the Aviva Stadium

For Ireland, Johnny Sexton has recovered from a dead-leg to lead the side, and admits his disappointment at being left out of Warren Gatland’s 2021 Lions squad to South Africa still drives him at 37-years-old.

“The Lions selection still drives me to this day. Any time I feel I’m getting a bit ahead of myself I just think back to not being picked for that.

“Again, it’s opinion, isn’t it? The World Player of the Year [Sexton was nominated this week] is a few people’s opinion. They think you’ve done well.

“When it came down to the Lions selection, a few important people thought that I wasn’t the right fit for that team and it hurt like hell.

Ireland’s Autumn Internationals

Saturday, November 5 Ireland 19-16 South Africa
Saturday, November 12 Ireland 35-17 Fiji
Saturday, November 19 Ireland vs Australia 8pm

Ireland and Johnny Sexton are on a run of superb form, having backed up a Six Nations Triple Crown success with a sensational series win over the All Blacks in New Zealand Ireland and Johnny Sexton are on a run of superb form, having backed up a Six Nations Triple Crown success with a sensational series win over the All Blacks in New Zealand

Ireland and Johnny Sexton are on a run of superb form, having backed up a Six Nations Triple Crown success with a sensational series win over the All Blacks in New Zealand

“It just shows the fickleness of selection and everything, and you don’t want to go out from international rugby like that. It’s a big motivating factor.

“I’d rather have got picked and I still think I’d be hungry, but maybe sometimes you need a bit of a stir up like that.

“I just need to concentrate on what’s ahead of me, and that’s all I am doing – concentrating on this season, and trying to make the most of every opportunity I get, and please God get to the World Cup and then see what happens.”

Ireland skipper Sexton admits Warren Gatland ignoring him for the 2021 British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa still drives him Ireland skipper Sexton admits Warren Gatland ignoring him for the 2021 British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa still drives him

Ireland skipper Sexton admits Warren Gatland ignoring him for the 2021 British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa still drives him

Speaking to media this week, Sexton added that with Ireland as the current No 1-ranked side in the world, the Wallabies will be gunning for them.

“There are areas of our game from the South Africa game – I’m not putting it all down to the Fiji game – that teams are going to come after us in a different way because we’re the No 1 team in the world or we’ve got some good results under our belt.

“They’re going to come after us and try to mess us up. Over the two games so far, we haven’t handled that as well as we would have liked.”

Scotland in must-win territory vs Argentina?

Off the back of a summer tour to Argentina in which Scotland threw away a series victory, they welcome the Pumas to Murrayfield with revenge in their thoughts, but also knowing defeat would see the current crop’s autumn labelled a disaster.

Scotland’s Autumn Internationals

Saturday, October 29 Scotland 15-16 Australia
Saturday, November 5 Scotland 28-12 Fiji
Sunday, November 13 Scotland 23-31 New Zealand
Saturday, November 19 Scotland vs Argentina 3.15pm

In July, they recovered from an opening Test loss to Argentina to win the second Test comfortably, before losing the third Test decider from the jaws of victory 34-31 from a position of 15 points ahead.

Gregor Townsend's Scotland have seemingly been in disarray and need a win to settle things down Gregor Townsend's Scotland have seemingly been in disarray and need a win to settle things down

Gregor Townsend’s Scotland have seemingly been in disarray and need a win to settle things down

Since then, Gregor Townsend’s Scots began their autumn with defeat to the Wallabies, laboured to victory over Fiji and then fell to another defeat to a much-changed New Zealand – who they have never beaten.

Argentina’s Autumn Internationals

Sunday, November 6 England 29-30 Argentina
Saturday, November 12 Wales 20-13 Argentina
Saturday, November 19 Scotland vs Argentina 3.15pm

In the background has been the omission of Finn Russell from the entire training squad, and then his re-emergence straight back into the starting XV vs the All Blacks, and the stripping of the captaincy from full-back Stuart Hogg to back-row Jamie Ritchie.

All has not been right in Scottish camp, and they need a win to steady the ship. Do so against Argentina, and they have a base to work from. Fail to, and the sense of disarray will persist.

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