In the wake of a few World Cup upsets, there are some comments flying around about the death of the northern hemisphere. But looking at the squads, will they rise from the ashes and soar higher than before?
When you look at the English squad, for example, you have to feel there is potential there, take Anthony Watson, for example; only playing in the pool stages but after the quarter-finals, he still leads the tournament for clean breaks with 11. As a team they made 2108 metres, beating both Wales and Australia - of course, the two still ultimately won. And they totalled 133 points for the Pool stages, beating France and Wales, who both played an extra game, and then you look at their squad.
They had a young side going into the tournament, with some of them arguably better than those starting, Henry Slade being one of them looking back in hindsight. Slade and Jonathan Joseph could be potent under a new manager that will look to turn England to be more creative rather than the conservative style that has formed under Stuart Lancaster. While Lancaster has done bravely, I think with a new manager, one similar to Warren Gatland or Joe Schmidt, England can really progress with the youth at the fore.
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Wales suffered injury crisis
For Wales, the injury list has been horrendous. You have to give it to them for doing so well and maybe even think that without all the injuries, could they have done better? I don’t actually believe they would have. It was the injuries that opened the doors to new players and showed their depth and they all fought for their places. They revealed that Wales have the depth and players coming through to challenge.
Scotland showed against Australia they can take it hard to the best and were so unlucky. Vern Cotter has shown even they too have a squad to hopefully be able to build upon. People coming in like the Gray brothers have solidified the pack with David Denton being a key force too.
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The Irish were unfortunate with the timing of their injuries, with all their key injuries coming at the same time. Paul O’Connell, Peter O’Mahony, Jonathan Sexton, Sean O’Brien, all coming after one game, and unfortunately they could not readjust quick enough to deal with the blow of the losses. In my opinion, if they hadn’t been afflicted with this, they could have got past Argentina and probably pushed the southern hemispheres' sides.
Additional slot for Six Nations?
The lower teams have come on loads, with Romania and Georgia actually pushing to have either another slot made for the Six Nations, or a relegation system formed. And Italy have to develop, otherwise the idea of a relegation could come into reality. With Sergio Parisse soon to retire, you would expect - but the man seems to be made of iron - they have to find fire from somewhere else. You would think with the names they have, they could do something better but they just don’t seem able to do it. I don’t think anyone knows what goes on with them, they just seem to do well, then they have to implode to be able to do it. Hopefully Guy Noves does the impossible and glues together this team so they can function.
The World Cup came at a time the north seems to be transitioning whilst the south has peaked and brought so much to the table. What I will say, is Australia and New Zealand are both very lucky to be able to attract the Pacific Islanders over to play for them, with the draw of those two teams being greater than that of the local teams. Will Skelton, Will Genia, Quade Cooper, Tevita Kuridrani, Henry Speight and Joe Tomane were all born overseas for Australia. While the All Blacks have Tawera Kerr-Barlow and Ben Franks born in Australia with Jerome Kaino born in American Samoa; Malakai Fekitoa born in Tonga and Waisake Naholo born in Fijii. All form a key part of the squads, but, of course, this applies to all nations and is a different argument.
If the northern hemisphere teams can develop as they have the potential to, they can get back into forming the stronger half of the globe.
What do north hemisphere teams need to do to go further at the next Rugby World Cup? Give your opinion in the comment box below!