RFU open to England-New Zealand showdown in 2017

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The Rugby Football Union is open to the possibility of England facing world champions New Zealand this year if a date can be found for the tantalising fixture.

England matched the All Blacks' record of 18 consecutive Test victories by a tier-one nation when they battered Scotland 61-21 in the Six Nations on Saturday.

The record will be theirs alone if they complete back-to-back Grand Slams by beating Ireland this weekend, but there is still a notable scalp that has not been claimed during the streak, that of powerhouse world champions New Zealand.

Indeed, the All Blacks did not beat England during their own run, which ended against Ireland in November, and there is clamour for the two top-ranked teams in the world to face off.

As it stands, they are not due to play until November 2018, but that could change.

An RFU spokesperson has been widely quoted in the UK media as saying: "We are playing NZ in 2018 - if the opportunity comes up for us to play them before then, we will pursue it."