On Monday, 1st December, the draw will be made for the Rugby World Cup 2011. The top four ranked countries will qualify in Band One and will avoid each other in the pool stages. Band Two will be the next four ranked teams, and Band Three, teams 9-12.
Between now and the draw lies England vs New Zealand at Twickenham. The next seven years of English rugby depend on this game. Victory on Saturday means a top four IRB ranking. In turn that would guarantee that England will avoid the Tri-nations teams in the opening pool matches of RWC 2011.
Anything else and England will struggle in 2011, followed by another four years of reforming and restructuring.
The problem is the All Blacks have won 24 of their 31 encounters and England have been beaten in the last six, ever since the tight 15-13 victory in Wellington in 2003.
And last weekend they got their worst ever hammering at home.
I'm unable to be upbeat about England's prospects. Wales look the most impressive of the Six Nations sides right now and they took a 9-29 thumping from the Kiwis last weekend. No amount of rejigging can save this England side from defeat.
England's only hope is to avoid a second weekend of humiliation. The question then is: do I put myself through the agony of watching the game? Maybe I'll just nip out for a long run along the river.
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