THERE could be new chapters in the history books after this weekend but how the history would be rewritten is going to be decided entirely by how two teams play it out.
The talk has been more about England and also by England while Ireland definitely wants to be spoilers and at the same time rejoice in its own success, what more this being St. Patrick’s Day weekend and the game to be played in Dublin.
Win this and England betters the 18-Test winning streak by New Zealand among tier one nations and scores a first back-to-back 6 Nations Grand Slam since the competition began in 2000.
For Ireland, defeat to England and a win by Wales in France will mean dropping out of the top four seeds for the World Cup 2019 draw to be made in May.
The boys in green have a good record against England, winning six of the last nine home encounters, but past statistics often do not influence the outcome on match day. This year’s competition has certainly seen results going against the pre-match predictions.
They lost first to Scotland and then Wales but beat England and they could end up second.
Now that England has reached this far since being coached by Australian Eddie Jones from early last year, most of the chatter within the team’s management and the players has been about England’s position in world rugby vis-à-vis the All Blacks, still the top ranked team.
In fact Jones looks to be quite pre-occupied with the All Blacks and has been referring to them since he began enjoying the winning streak last year.
A common denominator in the record run by both countries is that in the 18 Tests, they did not get to play each other.
They last met in 2014, four times in fact. Three were during England’s trip to NZ in June and then a game at Twickenham in November. The All Blacks won all four.
The teams are not due to meet again until the autumn of next year.
But with this hype about who’s the better of the two, the England Rugby Football Union now appears keen to host the All Blacks in November outside the international calendar, very much against its own stand about player welfare and burnout.
More on this when there’s firm news on what eventually will happen.
Scotland can go second if Ireland and France lose and if it does, this will be the first such achievement in 17 years.
For many of the players, this weekend offers the last chance for them to impress the Lions selectors to board that flight to New Zealand in June.
There are concerns though in New Zealand following injuries to several All Blacks last week, with all of them in the backline.
Nehe Milner-Skudder, who only recently returned following a shoulder injury that kept him out for about a year, has a fractured foot and will be out for six weeks. So too Israel Dagg, who needs knee surgery.
Others who got injured last week were winger Waisake Naholo, centre Seta Tamanivalu and flyhalf Lima Sopoaga. Utility back Ben Smith had concussion earlier on and hasn’t had a game since after the first round of Super Rugby.
Earlier in the week scrumhalf Tawara Kerr-Barlow confirmed that he will be joining French club La Rochelle at the end of the year, where he will have former All Blacks Victor Vito and Jason Eaton as squad mates.
The 26-year-old Kerr-Barlow has played 25 times for the All Blacks, 23 of these off the bench.
The All Blacks who earlier confirmed that they’ll be playing offshore later in the year are Charlie Faumauina, Steven Luatua and Aaron Cruden. Maori All Black and 7s representative James Lowe is also moving oversea.