England narrowly bested South Africa last weekend, where luck, as much as resilience, helped them over the line, whilst the All Blacks sent a largely developmental side out against Japan, defeating the Cherry Blossoms, 69-31, in Tokyo.
Will the lack of rugby for New Zealand’s front-liners energise them or will it have allowed a measure of rust to creep in? As for England, have they learned – and been able to put right – enough lessons from their outing against the Springboks to genuinely challenge the world’s number one side?
These are questions we won’t know the answers to until the whistle blows at Twickenham on Saturday, but the RugbyPass Index certainly provides a revealing comparison of the two sides.
Here’s how they stack up.
Overall XVs – England 1,160 vs New Zealand, 1,313
Bench – Jamie George (88), Alec Hepburn (67), Harry Williams (83), Charlie Ewels (64), Courtney Lawes (77), Danny Care (67), George Ford (72) and Jack Nowell (90) vs Dane Coles (74), Ofa Tuungafasi (75), Nepo Laulala (78), Scott Barrett (92), Matt Todd (90), TJ Perenara (87), Richie Mo’unga (93) and Ryan Crotty (83)
Overall – England 1,768 vs New Zealand, 1,985
That the All Blacks’ lowest scores on the Index are offered up by Williams and Coles, who sit at 70 and 74 respectively, tells you all you need to know about the quality of the side at Steve Hansen’s disposal. Both players comfortably offer more impact and ability than those numbers suggest, and those figures are a product of their recent injuries.
With the New Zealand starting XV averaging a whopping 87.5, it is clearly a monumental task in front of England. In fact, only Itoje, Kruis and Farrell sit above that average in the England XV, whilst George and Nowell are the only two on the bench to do so.
England do post competitive numbers in the second row and their half-backs and back three are not too far behind their opposite numbers, but it is only in the replacement front rowers where England really eek out any kind of advantage over New Zealand.
England did upset the RPI odds last week, by beating a Springbok side which had them bested on the Index, but that disparity was far smaller than the one which New Zealand enjoy going into this contest.
With an advantage of over 150 points in the starting XV, a gap which grows to over 200 when the benches are also included, England look to have a mountain to climb on Saturday.
Watch: An introduction to the RugbyPass Index.
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