Friday 22 March 2019

'Northern hemisphere rugby is pitiful – but it does not deserve our pity'

Referee Craig Joubert awards Australia a late match winning penalty during the 2015 Rugby World Cup Quarter Final match between Australia and Scotland at Twickenham Stadium on October 18, 2015 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Referee Craig Joubert awards Australia a late match winning penalty during the 2015 Rugby World Cup Quarter Final match between Australia and Scotland at Twickenham Stadium on October 18, 2015 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Declan Whooley

The Rugby World Cup has been a sobering occasion for the northern hemisphere and the brutal fallout of the Six Nations shortcomings continues on both sides of the equator.

For the first time in World Cup history, not a single side from the northern hemisphere will be represented in the last four and southern media has been analysing the reasons why.

Yesterday we rounded up media reports from New Zealand, South Africa and Australia as southern scribes pinpointed why Ireland, Wales, Scotland and France bowed out at the quarter-final stage and England's failure to emerge from the pool stages.

Club structures, risk-free game-plans, injuries and attritional rugby were all put forward as possible reasons, but Stuff.co.nz in New Zealand has been more hard-hitting in its assessment today.

Yesterday an article on the website suggested "Italy, France and England were dire" while Wales, Ireland and Scotland "played with heart", but Mark Reason pulls no punches in his column today.

In an article entitled 'Northern hemisphere rugby has lost its dignity', he is highly critical of the English and French club game, Scotland's 'injustice' at losing to Australia and admits he could not be happier that the "dull, defensive, clumsy and unthinking" rugby played by the northern hemisphere sides will no longer be present in the tournament.

England players look dejected
England players look dejected

"Northern hemisphere rugby has exited the 2015 World Cup with the same haste and dignity as referee Craig Joubert's sprint for the toilet," he writes.

"They are up to their necks in the merde and they have no one to blame but themselves. From the day that rugby went professional, England and France have lined their own pockets at the expense of their national sides.

"For the first time in World Cup history a side from the Northern Hemisphere will not be in the World Cup semifinals. Pitiful.

"Except they do not deserve our pity."

Reason begins with the fallout from the Wallabies controversial last-minute penalty winner against Scotland. World Rugby has admitted subsequently that a penalty was the incorrect decision, but the writer is adamant that the better team won.

"Scotland did not deserve to beat Australia. They created one try of their own, against five from Australia. They were gifted some extremely fortuitous scrummage penalties. Bernard Foley could not kick a goal in the first half.

Keith Earls shows his disappointment as Argentina celebrate their victory STEPHEN MCCARTHY / SPORTSFILE
Keith Earls shows his disappointment as Argentina celebrate their victory STEPHEN MCCARTHY / SPORTSFILE

"The Scots were handed two tries by the opposition. And still they could not win."

Reason is slightly less critical of Wales and Ireland, who "were competitive until the wheels fell off the Paddywagon", but ultimately both fell short when in need of the creative flexibility required to defeat southern hemisphere opposition.

The strongest words are reserved for the English and French rugby authorities, who "sold their soul to the clubs".

"They emphasise size and prefer the bashers to the passers."

After the dismal World Cup showing, the overall record between the two hemispheres is 245-121 in favour of the south with the average South 35 North 17.

The New Zealand scribe concludes that the last-eight games were a "celebration" of Southern hemisphere rugby.

"These rugby World Cup quarter-finals were a joy. They were a celebration of southern hemisphere rugby.

"The four top try scorers in the pool stages were New Zealand (25), South Africa (23), Argentina (22) and Australia (17). I could not be happier that the dull, defensive, clumsy, unthinking rugby of the Northern Lites has been run off its feet."

Read more here:

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