All Blacks Game for England Test
Byline: PETER JACKSON
THE almighty All Blacks are inviting England to make a second successive trip to New Zealand in 1999, only months before their scheduled World Cup-tie at Twickenham.
'We're proposing a one-off match against England in June of that year as an essential part of our build-up to the World Cup,' said New Zealand RFU chief executive David Moffatt. 'We're very keen to get it on the schedule.'
The two countries are already committed to four internationals within a period of nine months from November - at Old Trafford and Twickenham - followed by return Tests in Dunedin and Auckland next June.
England's pre-World Cup strategy has been put on hold pending the protracted overhaul of their management chain of command.
Clive Woodward, his release from Bath under negotiation, will almost certainly be installed as their first full-time coach within the next seven days.
Fran Cotton, the Lions manager in South Africa this summer now responsible for England's overall playing policy, said: 'Once the team management is in place we shall be reviewing the playing schedule up to the World Cup.
'We will then come up with a blueprint. Exposure to the All Blacks can only sharpen our skills and it's flattering to learn that they want us to go out there just before the World Cup. I'm delighted to see England playing New Zealand, South Africa and Australia on such a regular basis.' The Lions will also be back in business against the indestructible Sean Fitzpatrick and his troops earlier than scheduled. The next tour, booked for 2001, is to be brought forward by 12 months.
The tour organisers, the Four Home Unions, will take the decision next month to reschedule Lions' tours so they fall in the year after a World Cup and leave the major countries with three clear seasons to prepare for the next one. …