Monday 23 July 2018

Autumn series reveals the strength in depth Schmidt enjoys as Six Nations begins to loom

'The ease with which Jacob Stockdale adjusted to international rugby was a huge bonus.' Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
'The ease with which Jacob Stockdale adjusted to international rugby was a huge bonus.' Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Hold the Back Page: Eamonn Sweeney

There has seldom been a more revealing set of end-of-year rugby internationals than those played in the past few weeks. And what they revealed was a significant change in the balance of power.

Who'd have predicted that Ireland would beat South Africa by 35 points or Scotland have 29 points to spare over Australia? Those two games were merely the most glaring proof that the southern hemisphere's superiority is a thing of the past. When we talk about the power of the Rugby Championship teams, we're really just speaking about the All Blacks.

Even then, as the Lions series showed, the power of the All Blacks may be exaggerated by the current weakness of both the Wallabies and the Springboks. The problems of South Africa were flagged up well in advance, but the performances of Australia, who came into the tour on the back of a tremendous upset win over New Zealand in October, were hugely disappointing.

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