Has North overtaken South?

Brendon Shields

Disclaimer: I am a ‘Southern-Hemispherian’, but have been an avid supporter of Leinster since 2009 and now that my local Cheetahs are in the Pro14 I probably enjoy it more than Super Rugby. I watch an equal amount of southern and Northern Hemisphere rugby so I hope it qualifies my opinion.

My take away from the Rugby Championship, and more specifically the mighty duel between New Zealand and South Africa, is that the game down here is now more hype and less hit.

Usually Test rugby is considered to be of a higher pace with smaller margins. The defence is up a split-second quicker which reduces the reaction time of each player. Tests are only for the best of the best because (apparently) there is so much more pressure applied. Many would argue that a Test match featuring New Zealand and South Africa is as hot an environment as you are likely to find in rugby.

Yet, in the Rugby Championship, we witnessed botched kicks, overthrown passes, silly (in a bad way) offloads and poor one-on-one defence. Penalty kicks were hardly ever taken, as you would expect in what is supposed to be a pressure-cooker environment. Come line-out time, they fling the ball to the back, presumably because it looks so awesome on TV the one in 20 times it actually comes off. Inevitably the ball is lost by the attacking team and the circus continues.

In my opinion, the Rugby Championship has become nothing but an extension of Super Rugby. Either that or these teams and players are so sick of playing one another weekend in and out that they do not take these Test matches serious anymore.

The point was driven home to me in the Loftus Test, a game in which South Africa, in true super rugby fashion, decided to make multiple changes to their side in the last 10 minutes, while simultaneously disabling their tackle button (something the Cheetahs perfected.)

I mean seriously – circa 2009 the Boks became so efficient at closing out games that this DNA now permeates every schools team in the country. Yet somehow the national team has lost that ‘institutional memory?

Straight after the game I tuned into the Pro 14 derby between Leinster and Munster. Suddenly this felt like a Test match. The breakdown contests were really brutal, as opposed to brutal because the commentators say so.

Neither backline had any space and it required lightning-fast hand speed to create the smallest of line-breaks. It was an almighty battle for every inch.

This weekend the same thing played out when Munster met Exeter in the Heineken Cup. The match was played in a gale-force wind with each team pulling out every trick in the book to break the other’s defence.

I think this is what Rassie Erasmus meant when he said that Northern Hemisphere rugby better prepares players for Test rugby. It has nothing to do with the talent and athleticism of players. In this regard the south will for a while still trump the north. Instead it’s about the rivalry between teams and travelling fans.

Remember, due to its vast geography, Super Rugby and the Rugby Championship are both in essence television-only competitions, with very few fans able to follow their team abroad. As a result, the live experience is augmented with Zulu dancers and haka’s and fireballs and all kinds of TV trickery.

This approach in my opinion has now spilled onto the playing field, where after every fake scuffle you see locks and props employing the same tough-guy smile at the opposition. Where rugby up north resembles heavyweight boxing, Southern Hemisphere rugby is more WWE.

The one thing still saving the south is our reputation. Teams up north still fear us based on history, and this factor alone contributes around 10 points per game in our favour. However, once the north realises what an overhyped clown-show southern rugby has become, we are cooked.

They already have superior resources, not to mention a more favourable player environment. Now they have become really good at the game and play a type of rugby that creates great Test players. Something has to give.

I have never taken seriously the pre-World Cup blabber that the north has overtaken the south, but after this year’s Rugby Championship I am not so sure anymore. I honestly believe that Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales has the beating of any one of the southern powerhouses at the minute, and that includes New Zealand.

Japan 2019 might represent a massive tipping point in rugby union.

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- Brendon Shields

Let's chat

  • Herman Schroder?

    Finally an objective and concise account of where the game is at in these modern times. The last few years has seen a mighty improvement up North and if the French can finally get their act together the upcoming EOYT should be a humdinger. Let’s just hope most of the top players in the NH are available.

    I also watch a great deal of NH rugby and it is tough with the added touch of expansiveness now required for the modern game. Away wins and easy fixtures up North are far less than in our SR where the top 6 teams normally outclass the bottom 9 teams by huge margins. Once mighty teams like the Bulls, Stormers and Sharks have become bottom feeders in SR to some extent and the Aussies remain almost permanently woeful. Not healthy for the overall strength of the competition. The RC follows the same pattern in the main.

    I agree with the writer that that SH rugby is just too much of a muchness and the sooner the world of rugby overhauls the entire structure of competitions and test matches into a more fan friendly format the better. How does the saying go ? Familiarity breeds contempt. Cheers.

    • John Comyn

      I thought you don’t like “domkrag” rugby! Just wondering why you watch NH leagues.

      • nezo

        great response. don’t come advertise for Europe here. a problem with South Africans. its not only the officials that have the responsibility to keep our rugby strong, well watched and respected. the more we release such articles the more our youngsters will look elsewhere and learn to love other leagues.

      • Herman Schroder?

        You are obviously out of touch my friend. Watch Leinster for example, they will give the Crusaders a good run for their money playing balanced expansive rugby. The Champions Cup is on SS today watch it. Last night Leicester Tigers 45 – Scarlets 27. Dom krag at it’s best. Cheers.

      • Herman Schroder?

        It depends whose mind you’re thinking about. Cheers.

      • SweetAz

        Great minds think alike.

        • Herman Schroder?

          SweetAz. Maybe you should have waited for my response to John before adding your tuppence ha’penny’s worth. It would have saved both of you a liberal sprinkling of egg on the face, lol. Cheers.

          • SweetAz

            Says the man who’s Springbok laden Cubs are once again not in a Currie Cup Final. Might start taking you seriously when something you say actually has some correlation with reality.

  • Brendon Shields

    Thanks Herman,

    November tests unfortunately sees our guys a the end of their season while the North will once more be fresh – so it’s not apples and apples. But lets not forget that NZ and Oz will play each other again prior to the tour – just in case the players have not seen enough of one another :-)

    • Herman Schroder?

      The same applies to the NH in the June window where they are normally knackered by even more rugby than our SR. They also tend to send watered down teams here which diminishes the value of the results imo. The sooner they realign the test format the better, mooted for 2020 I believe, Cheers.

      PS: I agree the Bledisloe Cup is a real joke on the international calendar. Maybe the AB’s should give the Aussies a ten to fifteen point start, that should at least make it a bit more interesting

  • John Comyn

    We have been hearing this argument for the last 20 years. Then after the EOYT’s we hear the NH sides are almost there watch next year! The perception you seem to have that NH sides are flawless is misguided. I also watch NH rugby and can assure you there are as many mistakes. It’s the nature of the game! The AB’s are comfortably the best side in the world which they will demonstrate once more this year in the NH. But lets wait and see how the 3 SH sides go this year. My money is on them once again coming out on top of the NH sides.

    • Herman Schroder?

      You only have to look at the results sine 2014 till in Bok matches played over there to debunk your claims. If you take the AB results out of the equation you get a far clearer picture of just how much progress they have made. Please also be objective about the results in the June window tests where those teams normally send their second stringers to compete against our ‘best’. Cheers.

      • nezo

        no they have not made any progress. The Boks and Aussies just took a lot of steps back. i don’t even understand how this can be a topic. didn’t the Boks prove this against England. we just went through our darkest years in Rugby. we were at our worst and they still struggled to beat us. when even Italy and Japan beat us. come on guys be serious.

        because England, Croatia did well at the Soccer World cup does not mean they improved. it just meant that Germany, brazil, Argentina and few more wear at their Worst. not the other way around.

        • Herman Schroder?

          Nezo we proved nothing against England. Two overseas players had to turn the first two tests around after being hammered in the first half and then of course LOST the third test when England had finally worked out the Boks frailties. Remember they still left a lot of their first choices at home for various reasons. So in effect England, Wales and Ireland have all beaten us the last time out and as we haven’t played Scotland since 2015 that does not apply to the current argument. We play them in 4 weeks so let’s see how that pans out. Reality bites. Cheers.

  • Brendon Shields

    Too right John,

    This drum has been sounded many times before. However whereas 10 years ago a Scotland V Ozzie game was a foregone conclusion, the Scots will go into this one as favorites and will be bitterly disappointed to lose. So too will England V SA. When NZ and Ireland meet in Dublin you cannot say for sure that NZ will win. In fact I reckon Ireland by 10.

    My argument is that for many years the north steadily improved while the south stayed the same. Recently as a result of super rugby declining, the north keeps improving steadily while the south are in decline – so we rush to the point of equilibrium a bit faster?

    • SweetAz

      Agreed, unfortunately, too many people in SA have bought into this razzle-dazzle made for TV “expansive” game. You can read about it on any NZ forum where the debate is about “skills” and “entertainment” with very few actually understanding that rugby is about time and space and that those two are created by perfecting micro-skills not apparent to the casual armchair pundit. It’s in the shape of the hands when passing forward to make it look like a “flat” pass, the position the tacklers ends up in sealing/slowing ball, the binding of locks, props and hookers to “bore-in” to a tighthead or drop a scrum, the playing of players well behind the rucks taking them out of defense and creating holes—and a 100 other little things like body position and contact points in a tackle. Couple that with the lack of game management like that displayed by Papier in those last 10 minutes and NH sides appear to have the upper hand on a cerebral level as well.
      I think that a point of equilibrium has been reached and with so many great coaches in the NH compared to the relative dross (except for Steve Hansen) in the SH it’s bound to start manifesting in results sooner or later. The saving of SA may lie in finding a way to include one of our better Super Franchises like Stormers or Sharks into a NH competition enabling us to have diversity in approach, skillset and methodology. I don’t include the Lions simply because they have shown zero initiative other than trying to copy the AB’s (very poorly).

      • Herman Schroder?

        You came so close to impressing me that I almost started typing my homage to your insight before finishing the article. Then came your last sentence, no doubt intended to coax the Lions supporters into an indignant response.

        It hasn’t worked my friend because I am not indignant I just pity your total lack of insight and objectivity. To use the Sharks and Stormers as being two of the better Franchises is already a joke, unless you are a fan of the watered down CC system of course. Finishing 8th and 11th on a 15 team SR log just about sums up how misplaced your thinking is.

        Mind you it’s not very difficult to be one of our ‘better’ Franchises when you only have four Franchises competing with the two mentioned by you actually competing ‘poorly’. Once they have mastered SR then we can maybe think of sending them to the NH because we don’t want three teams up there competing ‘poorly’ do we.

        As for the Lions comment ? Their record speaks for itself my friend and needs no embellishment except to say that they indeed showed initiative by taking on the worlds super power at their own game and taking them to three SR finals. Your favourite two teams have carried on living in a ‘dom krag’ wonderland and their record speaks for itself. Dammit now I’ve gone on and embellished it anyway.

        But I must compliment you on some insight in the rest of your post which means there may be hope for you yet. Cheers.

        • SweetAz

          Any day now you’re going to figure out that Test rugby and Super Rugby are two totally different beasts,–like T20 and Test Cricket. The Ab’s and Super Rugby is T20 rugby, sooner or later someone figures you out and when you cant dominate the setpieces and your backline “wunderkinders” have no space THEN the chickens come home to roost.
          You are witnessing the end of AB hegemony and you don’t even realize it,—remember who told you first, unlike you most of my predictions actually come true.

          • Herman Schroder?

            Name me one of my predictions that didn’t come true then we can debate further. All my predictions for Bok rugby and SR since 2014 have come true and the SS archives are there for you to inspect at your leisure. You’re clutching at straws here.

            Sure SR isn’t test rugby but it remains our only source of talent for the Boks and you can only be judged by your skill and temperament in those games. The fact that the Lions over three years showed those traits and were still neglected by our last three coaches who brought SA rugby to it’s knees is proof of that. Remember even in this ‘turn around’ season we still lost to FIVE countries in ten tests and most of the players were drawn from the FAILED SR campaigners. I rest my case.

            Your read on the AB’s is premature old chap. Hansen has told NZ that they are developing a new strategy to implement before the WC and we know they always remain the benchmark for rugby innovation. We are still trying to compete playing the old game and not very well either. The implosion at Loftus was proof enough of that.

            Continue to live in ignorance my good man. Cheers.

  • Vossie

    NH rugby is on the up there’s no doubt, yet it seems England are in decline while Ireland, Wales & Scotland have been consistently getting stronger year by year. keep in mind that 3 of NH power houses are being coached by SH coaches and up until last year Vern Cotter coached Scotland. it is clear to see that SH rugby has had a massive influence in the Northern Hemisphere and we are now seeing the benefits of having SH coaches coaching clubs in NH. The ultimate goal here is that NH wants to be the strongest and best in World Rugby and they have been doing it by poaching SH coaches for years! Of course this takes time and it is starting to look like the time has come!
    – Bath (Todd Blackadder SH)
    – Munster (Van Graan SH)
    – Gloucester (Ackerman SH)
    – Cardiff Blues (Mulvihill SH)
    – Glasgow (Rennie SH)
    – Scarletts (Pivac SH)
    – Connact (Friend SH)
    – Worcester (Duncan SH)
    – Northampton (Boyd SH)

    • nezo

      those are all our coaches and players. which basicly means that the NH has become the SH. that wont do good to their national sides.

  • Frankie Knuckles

    The Northern hemisphere club teams play fantastic rugby!
    Thanks to all the Southern Hemisphere players they import at great cost, instead of scouting, procuring and developing their own native stars.
    Then they wonder why they have one 1 World Cup in 8?
    Let’s clarify your missive.
    Northern hemisphere Clubs – FANTASTIC! (thanks South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, Argentina, Tonga and Samoa for supplying the players and coaches… )
    Test teams – average… but improving ( thanks to rubbing shoulders with players, and being coached by coaches, from South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, Argentina, Tonga, Samoa….)
    And as a closing flourish, ponder this – the NH nations have been made to look a lot better than they are purely because SH has really slumped in the last few years.
    If the worlds number 1 team can lose at home to the lowly 7th ranked team, and then barely scrape a 2 point win against the number 5 ranked team, clearly all is not as was before.
    But those 2 teams will still thrash any NH team in a World Cup year.
    Thanks to John Mitchell, England is no longer a concern- everything he touches turns to sh*t.
    And Eddie will burn the players out long before the WC.
    Ireland the new force in World rugby?
    Lets see if they can shake off the Six Nations hangover first before they are hailed as world beaters.
    Wales? Please!
    Scotland at least show some mongrel from time to time, albeit for mere 3 minute stretches.
    France look like lost farts in a hailstorm the last few years and despite their freak victory over the Alister sabotaged (you can’t call what that imbecile did, coaching) Boks, Italy’s one glory day has come and gone.
    Nope, they’ll meet in the first round, and reveal nothing to one another or the other finalists, but come November 2nd next year, it will be the Sringboks and the All Blacks facing one another over a tense haka, after destroying all NH teams before them.

    • nezo

      i should have not commented. i should have waited for you to comment. Perfectly done Sir.

    • Herman Schroder?

      I suggest you watch more NH rugby ( assuming you watch any ) including the Six Nations so you can be a bit more objective. If you recall in the 2015 WC both Wales and Ireland lost in their QF;s in rather dubious or unlucky circumstances, both games went to the wire. So not much in it even then. Next year at the WC they will be even more competitive.

      The Boks record in EOYT since 2014 has been pretty poor and please do not take the results of the June tours as a measuring stick because the NH inevitably bring grossly ‘watered down’ teams to tour the SH.

      Ireland can overtake NZ as the No 1 ranked team in the world if the results go their way in November. Ireland, Wales and England currently ranked above us and if we lose to England in our first match Scotland will take over No 5 spot with us sinking to a lowly 6th. Australia and Argentina even worse.

      So I think you need to revisit your post with a bit more objectivity my good man. As Bob Dylan once sang ” For the times they are a changing ”. Cheers.

    • Jeane Pierre Tollemache

      Now this sums is up much better than the article! A much better read………..

      • Herman Schroder?

        See my post just above here for an objective look, Cheers.

    • John Comyn

      Yep Frankie – that about sums it up! Why are they pillaging our players if we are so shyte, as the writer suggests. You just got to look at guys like Kolbe & Willie Le Roux. They are treated like Gods by supporters and club. Hell Schalk Burger (nearing pension) is still a regular at Sarries with broken body and all after taking many years of battering.

    • Vossie

      LOL Frankie,brilliant!!!

      • Herman Schroder?

        It’s rubbish see my post above, Cheers.

        • nezo

          No Herman yours is rubbish. Great Frankie

          • Herman Schroder?

            Why old chap ? Cheers.

  • Brendon Shields

    Frankie a lot of what you said is true about 5 years ago, but things change. It does not matter how the north became strong (via SH influence) – fact is, they are stronger. At junior level first England and now France dominate, where once this was the sole domain of NZ and SA. This has to do with well equipped player pathways and development structures.

    • Herman Schroder?

      So right. I have responded to Frankie above. Cheers.

    • Vossie

      True Brendon, got to agree with you! Admirable from Frankie and John but the lads go this one wrong unfortunately!

  • Stephanus Johannes Van Aswegen

    I cannot even comprehend how this matter is given any time for discussion at all. In what universe is the Pro14 better quality than Super Rugby? The Kings actually won a game, and the Cheetahs made it to the play-offs in early 2018. Two teams that can hardly compete at Currie Cup level. How do you justify this as stronger in any language?

    Yes, there are more mistakes in the Rugby Championship, because the SH has moved past “stampkar” rugby, and is trying new things, expanding and reinventing the game, 265 tackles in one game, yes that definitely smells like the SH getting worse (I’m sarcastic, but I am not sure whether you would realize this). One team making another team tackle that many times, THAT is trying everything to create a line-break.

    All this crap about Leinster and Munster doing their utmost to unlock the other team’s defence, when all they are doing is passing to the guy next to them, who runs into the defence, sets up a ruck, and then they start again. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result…last time I checked, that wasn’t the definition of brutal my friend.

    What you clearly fail to comprehend, is that two poor teams can also give each-other a mighty game, it doesn’t mean they are more intense, it only means they have less options available to them as they are severely hamstrung by the quality of their line-ups.

    If you look at the age of some of the players in the Premiership that still form part of their line-ups week in and week out, you’d probably say it is proof of superior player management, I’d say it’s proof of how soft the premiership is, ex-SAFFA’s go there to retire for goodness sake, what does that tell you?

    Unfortunately this article’s preposterous premise will only be shown up, once the end of year tour to the NH has been completed, and then I’d like to see the back-paddling.

    Only two years ago, the mighty Irish lost a series to Toetie’s avengers, that happened, the same Irish against which the All Blacks lost a game in Chicago, a festival game if ever there was one, I’d love to see that happen again, I personally predict that the Irish will endure an extremely long drought of wins against the AB’s in future, if they ever beat them again…

    But, being a Cheetahs supporter, I guess your view will always be a bit skewed. One always like to think your team is competing against the best, that same team, at full Pro14 strength that lost 32-0 in the opening Currie Cup match against a WP team without 17 regular players, Springboks and Injuries considered.

    Dream on dude, and invite the NH to also take a whiff of whatever you have in your pipe, they are going to need it in a month’s time.

    • nezo


      What you clearly fail to comprehend, is that two poor teams can also give each-other a mighty game, it doesn’t mean they are more intense, it only means they have less options available to them as they are severely hamstrung by the quality of their line-ups.

    • Brendon Shields

      Pro 14 is similar to Curie Cup, whereas Heineken Cup is the NH version of super rugby. Also note that the Irish side that travelled here 2 years ago was missing 9 starting players. It was considered a development tour, with many players then and now not near their strongest match day 15. It was also the end of their season, so it’s a bit like us travelling up north now with 9 loftus starters not available.

      • John Comyn

        Brendan – stuff happens we are also likely to have injuries when we tour so saying Ireland came here with the view that it was a “development tour” is highly unlikely. England had a poor 6 nations but I would still put them on a par with Ireland and we beat them twice at home ditto Ireland. If we lose over there are we going to be saying it was as a result of Faf and Willie not being available? I think not!

      • Stephanus Johannes Van Aswegen

        9 Players?

        Kearney, Zebo and Sexton were missing from the squad that toured SA, and are the only players missing from the starting 15 that beat the All Blacks, maybe you should check your information a bit better before making wild calls like that. They rested some players after an arduous season, so now we call it a development tour, as many SH teams do when travelling up north, but apparently the NH tours are not development tours, seeing as Ireland are still cuckooing after their once-off win in Chicago, albeit at the end of a tough season for the AB’s, which the AB’s then summarily righted at the home of Irish rugby a few weeks later.
        One win in a century, and a few wins against SA and Australia that clearly had, and might still have some growing pains, in replacing frankly, players of massive significance, hardly signifies a change in the guard.

        The quick throw-in you are bleating about where Le Roux scored. Should Barret have pulled it off, and it resulted in a try at the other end, he would have been labeled a genius, now he is a miscreant, but exceptional players challenge the norm, and 75% of the time it works out for them, failures are a given though, and again, that is how the game grows. Do you honestly believe that Sexton, Earls, Stockdale and Kearney are in any way as menacing as Barret, Ioane, Naholo and Ben Smith? You know those last four perhaps? Not guys always playing percentage rugby…

        Also, the Gulf between CC and Superrugby is much more pronounced than between the Pro14 and Heineken Cup, where the international players are available for both competitions.

        This is not an argument with an end, only the World Cup can do that, and away from their muddy pitches and rain soaked home stadia, I wonder if your NH powerhouses can deliver the goods…

        • SweetAz

          Barrett cant tackle for shit, Naholo is a penalty looking for a place to happen and Ben Smith lately looks like a geriatric. Ioane has his faults as well. The BIL made them look decidedly ordinary, a team thrown together with very little chance to grow cohesion. Sorry, my friend, your gods have feet of clay

        • Pearse O Donnell

          It may be of interest to you that of the Irish team that won in Chicago, only 6 started in Twickenham when the Irish won the grand slam. That is serious development. New Zealand may be the no1 but Ireland have a winning record v S.A, Aus & Arg since the last world cup. And don´t forget the thumping the Scots & English gave the Aussies last November. The gap is closing but we won´t know for sure until Japan ´19 & by then a lot of SH people could very well be eating a lot of humble pie.

          • nezo

            the reason why teams keep winning world cups and Matches in general is because they have a winning DNA in them. its proven in any sport. Soccer, cricket, rugby, olympics etc. the NH does not have that. it is a gift only the SH has in Rugby. so even at their worst the SH will always be Favourites and rightly so. History always has a way of giving the SH countries advantage over the NH. its just in the DNA. its a God given gift. that is it

  • Barry

    Sorry, but its a bit of a silly debate frankly. You cannot look at it regionally, because the regions are made up of many teams, some strong some weak! Scotland are on the up, but they have been pitiful for years prior to this point and Italy are second tier. Similarly in the Southern Hemisphere Australia have been up to No 2 in the world but they’re in a dip at the moment and are sitting at 7th. Argentina are ranked 9th in the world, but they were fourth at last RWC.

    SA currently sit at 5th, but they have beaten both New Zealand and England, who are ranked 1st and 4th respectively!

    There is currently no North Verses South competition, so until there is, I think it would be more meaningful to consider World rankings rather than generic regional comparatives!

    1 New Zealand
    2 Ireland
    3 Wales
    4 England
    5 South Africa
    6 Scotland
    7 Australia
    8 France
    9 Argentina

    • Brendon Shields

      True. So based on rankings 3 from 5 top teams are NH. That sounds about right.

      • Barry

        No, not really, you would need to do your analysis at the end of November, when the EOYT is completed and the above teams (1 – 9) have played each other. Most would by then have had home and away fixtures during 2018 and it is thus probably the most meaningful time to asses who stands where!

        At the moment the log is a little skewed. Argentina for example sit at 9, but they are a lot better than that in reality. They were a little unlucky in the Four nations but are looking pretty good under Mario Ledesma. Expect to see them more around 5 or 6 at the end of November.

        Another example is Ireland, currently sitting in 2nd spot. They are a very good side, but they rely heavily on a handful of senior players – Sexton, Murray, Best, Kearney, but if you have a look at the experience of their second tier players, you realise just how precarious their position is. A few untimely injuries and Ireland will be in trouble.

        Let us have this debate at the end of November. The log will look a lot different then!

        • Brendon Shields

          Barry with all due respect Ireland right now has the most depth bar New Zealand in world rugby. They have 3 players best in their position in world (SA has Marx only) while having 5 props, 4 world class locks, 6 world class loosies. They are covered. Wales might be a bit thin and Egland have their issues, but the team you are describing is Scotland, not Ireland.

          • Fanie van Aswegen

            Are you dim? South Africa only has Marx? Kitshoff, Etzebeth, Vermeulen, Steph Du Toit, Le Roux would walk into any team around the globe. Your ridiculous fascination with the Irish is making you go mad. Where has their supposed depth been tested? Not one irish player can be named as the top player in his position in the world, not one… You are either trolling for comments, or your delusion is making you a dangerto society.

          • Barry

            Uhm, not in the areas that count:

            Fly Half Sexton 78 tests – Keatley 7
            Scrum Half: Conor Murray 59 tests – Marmion 18
            Full Back: Kearney 78 – Larmour 0
            Centres : Henshaw 31 – others 2

            Now do the same exercise with any of the other top tier teams and you’ll get my point. Ireland are very vulnerable! An injury at any of 9, 10 or 15 and they are in big trouble!

  • Brendon Shields

    I was asked an example of how SH test rugby now mimicks super rugby.

    Here goes:

    Barret throwing a quick line out in his own 22 in first 10 minutes, only for ball to be scooped by Le Roux for a 7 pointer in Wellington.

    That’s straight out of the 9 in the morning – Rebels VS Highlanders – 12 people at stadium playbook.

    • Herman Schroder?

      Good one, lol. Cheers.

  • Amien

    They will never be better than the SH period. They import our players we do not do the same. lest we forgot prior to professionalism when they only Used home grown players they were our wiping boys our Custard and Jelly on a Sunday afternoon. I do get where you come from but ask yourself who has the positive win loss ratio?

    • Brendon Shields

      Amien how long ago is that? You do realise that things change yes?

      • nezo

        shame man. change. u wish for it.

      • Amien

        What is the ratio? Things change yes. They have the better package but we have the better players period. We are conditioned better. Ultimately yes they might have a period of bloom but fact is we don’t want their players they want ours. Haskell tried it couldn’t cope cipriani tried couldn’t cope. Their international teams is saturated with SH players.

  • Sue

    The Southern hemisphere has traditionally produced bigger and heavier rugby players than the North…fact.
    Drier and more adverse weather conditions allows a faster; more athletic; skills based game than the heavier; wetter general conditions in the North.
    Like comparing Oranges to Minneolas; they look the same and are from the same family but the taste and texture is different.
    Historically the Southern 3 heavyweights of the AB’s/Bok’s/Wallabies have dominated world rugby as a return of 1 in 8; North vs South at WC competitions spells out in no uncertain terms.
    That said…Southern coaching “nous” ala Henry; Gatland; Smidt; Cheika and Ackers/van Graan have raised the players skill level in the North which has been good for the game globally.
    But sorry; no cigar for the Northern armchair coaches here..
    A well oiled and polished Southern power will triumph 9 times out of 10 against the best the North can put together; even with a Southern coach.
    The only teams to have come close briefly is Schmidt’s Irish and Eddie’s Roses but the jury is still out if its a new trend…
    From this armchair it doesn’t look like it..but I can’t wait for a fascinating WC ’19 which will shine more light on this subject.

  • IRC

    If NH rugby is looking better these days you need to look at what has changed in the last few years – there has been a huge influx of SH players and coaches.

    The really successful European teams are the ones that play similar rugby to their SH counterparts: offloads, kick passes, varied running lines etc. Think Leinster, La Rochelle, Saracens and Montpelier for example.

    • Brendon Shields

      Also factor in the development of 4G pitches, better youth development etc. The south is the south whereas the north now is best of both worlds?

      • IRC

        I dunno how NH youth development is going with all those SH players taking their spots. But the north is improving due to the influx of SH players and coaches. I feel though that they’re not there yet, just like the boks aren’t yet competitive with the ABs. The EOYT will hopefully provide more clarity (apart from the Ozzies).

        However, as long as the north is “poaching” from the south they’ll always be playing catch-up instead of innovating and leading.

  • Wesley

    Ive been reading the comments and skimming a few, so sorry if someone did mention this…. How about the fact we always play north vs south at each end of our respective seasons? Even in golden years, we struggle up north, not bagging a grand slam since forever. Some we beat well but only because of bad oppositions, like the Lancaster England. But then they come down in June and we completely dominate, even if we have no right to. Even Toetie managed a fair record in his incoming tour against Ireland after only at the helm for a month. Players are tired and not in similar cycles in the season. This adds some advantage to the home team. NZ almost lost to Scotland, something that should not even be remotely possible. Have a global season and things may become quite clear. But agreed, NH is stronger, rankings wise occupying 2,3,4 and 6. France the dunce of the group, and Italy not a traditional powerhouse and excusable at the moment. SH languishing at (other than NZ) at 5,7 and 9. It may be the southern influence or whatever, but no matter the input, it is still under the country flag they play for and so not ours to claim.

  • James

    I played some social club rugby in the UK in the late 90’s and was appalled by the lack of skill and physicality of the locals. The pool of talent is small in the north YET if they can copy NZ and Aus (who incorporate 30% foreign born islanders in most test teams) they could well become powerhouses.

    • Brendon Shields

      James it registers that the 90’s is now almost 30 years ago. Phones used to be attached to walls back then. Much has changed…

  • Dean

    This is always the talk around the time of a World Cup. And then the SH sets the record straight. 2015 was supposed to be the rise of NH rugby and they all got smashed. 4 SH teams in the semi-finals. Let’s wait and see after this November tour. Nz will probably go unbeaten again. SA should win at least 3 matches. Aus I’m sure will have the better of Wales and possibly Scotland. Scotland, France and Wales probably only have 3 players between them that MIGHT make a World 23. Fiji have all their best players from Europe so they might surprise some teams. England didn’t look organized when they were in SA and are only a big losing streak. The only team from the North that could topple Nz is Ireland and I can’t see it happening.

    • Herman Schroder?

      Selective memory old chap. In 2015 Ireland were robbed in their QF against Auss and Wales were leading against the Boks until Vermeulen made the only pass of his career to Du preez who scored in the corner. Nothing in it and but for fortune two NH teams could have been in the semi’s. Next year they will be even better prepared for the WC whereas we are still a 50 / 50 team, NZ is showing cracks while Auss is just pathetic. Argentina are at least improving. Cheers.

      • nezo

        my point exactly. the SH guys have winning DNA. they will always win the close matches. it has nothing to do with fortune. u are only counting two games. there are many more similar games that were won by SH countries. eg Boks vs France in 1995. Winning DNA will even make the Ref blow for SH sides. its a divine favour. you cannot fight it.

        • Herman Schroder?

          Nezo pardon me but where exactly is this winning SH DNA you speak of ?? The Boks, Aussies and Argentina have been piss poor since 2014. Even in this our so called ‘turn around’ year we still lost to FIVE countries and have only a 50 / 50 win ratio. The Aussies have lost 9 of their last 11 games and Argentina under their old coach have hardly won any games.

          Our implosion at Loftus proves our DNA is sadly not exactly of the regularly winning kind in modern times. Cheers.

    • Chris Mouton

      Spot on, Dean. I’ve been reading the comments as well, but I have to agree with you. In my opinion SA can make it a potential 4 out of 4. NZ will beat Ireland and the rest of the matches. That being said, I’m really looking forward to the EOYT. We’re going to see some good rugby!

  • Anonymous

    This is a very bold statement off the back of very few facts for the following reasons:.

    1.) 4 years ago there were 4 SH teams in the WC semi-finals. You are talking about a remarkable change in a time span of 4 years.
    2.) Ireland, one of the best NH teams of the last 20 years, toured with a full-strength squad to Australia (One of the worst SH teams of the last 20 years) at the start of this year and won 2-1, but the overall score was 55-55.
    3.) The difference in playing style you refer to stems from weak tactics in my opinion. You are describing games where teams are struggling to break down the defense of other teams (Similar to how Aus is playing at the moment). In the last SA vs NZ Rugby championship match, 5/7 tries were scored from pre-determined tactics by both teams. Rugby is evolving into an NFL type game where pre-determined plays are more important than “in situation” type plays. Your comparison actually indicates how far behind the NH teams are on tactics in addition to the gap in skills and physicality.

    But there is only one real fair test of this, and that is the world cup. So we will see in a year’s time – my prediction is 3 SH teams in the semi-finals

    • Herman Schroder?

      In response, 1 Ireland were robbed in the QF and Wales beaten in the last minute by the Boks in their QF.. Hardly an example that shows total superiority. Also remember next year these teams will be even better prepared.

      2. Ireland beat the Aussies away from home and the Aussies still lost the series no matter the points differential.

      3. Watch more NH rugby, excluding the dour French rubbish to maybe improve your objectivity levels. Cheers.

      • Anonymous

        I think we can really only judge from results. As you pointed out in your 2nd point (Although you should apply the same logic to your first point). At this stage, the results at World cups are in favour of the SH sides. I don’t really see any evidence of this changing. Since we both feel that neither of us have sufficient evidence to back-up our statements, let’s leave it there and wait for results in a year’s time. But I expect this rhetoric to come around again in 4 years, even if the results go in the way of the SH.

      • nezo

        stop advertising for the European leagues. are you trying to take money from africa. you have responsibility as an African citizen to protect our economy. to grow and advertise for our products and not those of others. MTN cant speak good about Vodacom because they will loose business. why are you so determined to make our Africans watch european products instead of our SH products that are helping your own country gain money.

        with what you are doing. we will end up having no rugby inheritance to give to the next generation. you have a duty to support, protect and grow our rugby. its not only the officials that must help fill our stadiums. every supporter must do so too. come on!!! you are now acting like those capetonians who support the All Blacks instead of the Boks.

        • Herman Schroder?

          Nezo. To get respect, protect and grow you have to EARN it through hard work and provide results based on fairness and honesty. Respect is not just handed to you otherwise we could end up like Bafana Bafana ranked about 70th in the world. Blindly following a cause without criticizing the fault lines is stupidity because ignoring the problems does not solve them. Action via hard work and speaking the truth might however lead to improvement. Cheers.

          • nezo

            Herman if only you could criticise constructively. that would be welcomed. but u fail to see even when we are improving. u are a tough chap to impress. if you can be impressed at all.

            again the Boks are coming from their darkest years ever. in Erasmus first year he has shown us that he is building something. if you think beating the so called weakened England, the All Blacks and Aussies is not an improvement then i do not know. remember we lost to wales with our second team. which u rightfully said are not yet up to standard. so why count that game. same as the third test against England.

            so in truth we have lost only 3 times with our first team. which makes it 5 wins in 8 matches. 63% win rate with our first team involved.

            we all can see we still need to improve in a lot of Areas but does that mean we must criticise even when the guys are moving in the right direction. also its not only speaking the so called truth that leads to improvement. your “we are behind you Boks” can do a lot to the Boys.

  • Brendon Shields

    James it registers that the 90’s is now almost 30 years ago. Phones used to be attached to walls back then. Much has changed…

  • Nick

    Gee….Confused, Northern Hemisphere rugby is utter rubbish but all of our players and coaches leave to go up there at the drop of a hat.

    If success criteria based on this argument is entirely about test match results I guess that argument will make sense to you. It runs a lot deeper than that. Facilities; infrastructure, support at all levels, not to mention the small matter of MONEY for the pro’s. How many of you geniuses have attended a club game in Britain or France to make the comparison? How many of you have played or been involved at a decent club in Britain or France?


    • nezo

      perfectly said mr Nick

  • Jacques Nortier

    Same old same old….the year before a WC the same questions are asked and when WC comes they are nowhere to be seen….

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