A win on Saturday against Ireland will not only secure a second successive Grand Slam for #England, but also set a new world record for most consecutive wins, currently set at 18 victories. Under Eddie Jones, they have beaten every opposition that has come between them, including a whitewash against their old enemies from Down Under, Australia, and are now on the cusp of becoming the first side to win two Grand Slams in a row since the Six Nations was introduced.
They are clearly the form team at the moment, especially following a convincing 61-21 victory over a resurgent Scotland, but the challenge has always been to become the best in the world and #New Zealand still sit miles ahead of their Northern Hemisphere rivals.
Best in the business
The All Blacks may have lost their run and some of the greatest players to ever grace the game, including fly-half Dan Carter and captain Richie McCaw, but New Zealand’s endless pool of talent has seen the holes quickly filled. They are still a force to be reckoned with, winning four of the last five Rugby Championship titles, a competition that pits South Africa, Australia, Argentina and New Zealand against each other in a similar format to the #Six Nations.
Let’s not forget that they are still the reigning World Champions, winning it in 2011 and 2015, and are not looking like losing their grip on their number one spot any time soon, with stars including Beauden Barrett, Julian Savea and new captain Kieran Read.
Can England surpass them?
What England have on their side is strength in depth and a youthful squad. Billy Vunipola, Maro Itoje and George Ford have become integral parts of their recent success and are all 24 years and under, while only six of their 35-man squad for this year’s Six Nations have reached their thirties.
During their winning streak, they became known for their ‘finishers’, bringing on replacements to dominate late on. Billy Vunipola, Danny Care and Anthony Watson came off the bench to score four tries in the win over Scotland. But it is not just the past year and a half under Jones that gives England fans hope that they can knock the All Blacks of their pedestal, it is the insistence that they are just one year into a four-year plan, that culminates in winning the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
While there is still some way until England close the gap in the rankings, they will not know just how far they have come until they face the side currently at the summit, with the earliest match up not until November 2018. Yet, a series in South Africa in next year will give them the perfect platform to test themselves against a talented and tricky opponent.
Will England become number one? Have your say.