Ireland's flanker Sean O'Brien (R) is tackled by Australia's No8 Radike Samo during the 2011 Rugby World Cup Australia vs Ireland AFP PHOTO / GREG WOOD

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With the Six Nations over, attention in the northern hemisphere is now on the upcoming mid-year internationals.

Expectations up north are, as always, quite high. But realistically, what are England, Ireland, and Wales’ chances of heading across the equator and scoring a few upsets? Very little I suspect. Let’s have a look at the match-ups and consider the history of each.

England versus South Africa
South Africa have not lost against England since November 18, 2006. England enjoyed their last victory on South African soil on June 24, 2000. South Africa have played 10 games in total against England in South Africa, winning seven and losing three. Since 2000 South Africa have won 76.16 percent of their games at home.

Add to the mix a new coach and a host of exciting players coming through the ranks in the Springboks.

Not many teams pitch up in South Africa and expect to win. And England with their current team would be wise to keep their heads down and do their talking on the field. The Lions learnt that lesson the hard way.

Prediction: South Africa 3 – 0 England

Australia versus Wales
The last time Australia lost against Wales was on November 29, 2008, in Wales. The Welsh have tasted victory on Australian soil only once, way back in 1969. Australia’s all-time winning percentage at home is 59.45, but that figure since 2000 increases to 78.16.

Wales under Warren Gatland have been known to talk a bit too much and that is fine. But they have to back it up against the best opposition. Wales are undoubtedly a good team, but they lack the composure and self belief to turn over the Big Three. Australia have the players to win this one.

Prediction: Australia 2 – 1 Wales

All Blacks versus Ireland
The All Blacks have never lost against Ireland. There has been one draw between the sides way back in 1973. The All Blacks enjoy an all-time record of 83.05 percent of games won at home. If you look at that figure since 2000 it stands at 91.66 percent, with 66 matches won and only six lost.

Based on the above figures it would be very unwise to bet against the All Blacks.

People may say the stats count for nothing, but I think it paints an accurate picture of what will happen come the June tests.

Depsite South Africa losing many old hands, they have a new coach, and many new faces coming through with better talent than what is on offer in England. Even England have two South Africans in their side.

Australia have some stability with new players putting up their hands on a weekly basis.

And the All Blacks, well when have we ever seen a poor All Blacks team?

All this leads to the continued dominance of world rugby by the southern hemisphere.

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The Crowd Says (85)

  • March 29th 2012 @ 1:18am
    granville said | March 29th 2012 @ 1:18am | ! Report

    lets hope Wales dont surprise the Wallabies in June

  • March 29th 2012 @ 1:37am
    Johnno said | March 29th 2012 @ 1:37am | ! Report

    Wales have such big wings. But where wales wekaness is, is depth. They have about 22 players that are good maybe 25 , but outside of that there is a big drop in class. Front row for example when Jenkins and jones don’t play no other world class props.
    Have about 3 world class locks then after that nothing either and same in back row , ryan jones as back up then not much else.
    And this tour is at end of season wales , better hope not too many injury drop outs. And Jamie Roberts they have no real replacement for can’t afford to lose him. Gavin Henson may tour which will be exciting , so much intrigue about him. James Hook seems to of fallen off the radar.

    • March 29th 2012 @ 1:44am
      DeanMalone said | March 29th 2012 @ 1:44am | ! Report

      Johnno, what is happening with Gavin Henson? Do you think he is a viable option for the tour?

    • March 29th 2012 @ 1:54am
      Turno said | March 29th 2012 @ 1:54am | ! Report

      Lack of depth? Sounds familiar to me.

      Given current injuries and form I couldn’t see the wallabies putting out a team to beat Wales.

    • March 29th 2012 @ 2:29am
      Ben S said | March 29th 2012 @ 2:29am | ! Report

      I think Wales are doing OK for depth, tbh – definitely better than in recent years. Jenkins and Jones are two of the best players in the world, so it’s not easy to replace them, but Paul James and Craig Mitchell have been more than adequate.

      Charteris, AW Jones, Davies and Ian Evans are all very good (and different players) IMO.

      In the backrow Ryan Jones isn’t an all-time great, but he’s a very good forward and can cover 6 and 8, and Justin Tipuric looks a good replacement for Warburton at 7. Andy Powell is also an option too.

      Roberts would be a loss, but they could always bring Jon Davies infield to 12 (or move Hook there), with Scott Williams in at 13.

      Obviously there would be a drop-off if Wales lost their Lions, but I think they’re doing well in terms of squad development.

  • March 29th 2012 @ 1:58am
    Ben S said | March 29th 2012 @ 1:58am | ! Report

    ‘do their talking on the field. The Lions learnt that lesson the hard way.’

    What does this mean?

    ‘Wales under Warren Gatland have been known to talk a bit too much and that is fine. But they have to back it up against the best opposition.’

    Again, which Welsh players have spoken out of turn? I can’t recall any. Sam Warburton, as captain, is the epitome of respectful.

    ‘Depsite South Africa losing many old hands, they have a new coach, and many new faces coming through with better talent than what is on offer in England. Even England have two South Africans in their side.’

    Three South Africans actually, but it’s arguable that two are there because of injury. How can you even compare the talent? Does SA have better backs than Tuilagi, Foden and Ashton, for example? Not on anything I have witnessed over the past few years. Is Steyn a better 10 than Toby Flood. Not IMO, but then I wouldn’t compare the two because they’re totally different players, likewise Hougaard is a different player to Youngs.

    I can’t see the statistics of past games being relevant to the Welsh and England players because quite a few of them have limited experience (none at all in quite a few cases) playing against their summer opponents.

    • March 29th 2012 @ 2:33am
      DeanMalone said | March 29th 2012 @ 2:33am | ! Report

      Before the Lions tour to SA the Lions management were going on about how they were going dominate this and dominate that. I remember in the first test in Durban the Lions made a huge noise about how they would target the SA scrum. And what happened? They were destroyed in the first half.

      I forgot about Matt Stevens, but he has been there since being a teenager (please correct me im wrong), so does not really count as a Saffa. To answer your question, no, I do not think any of the players you mention are better than their SA counterparts. Your point is valid when say, comparing Steyn to Flood that they are diff players, but then Steyn has won a 3N title, a Lions series, and has won against NZ in NZ. For the others I am very excited to see what happens!

      And those stats do count for something, they show some clear trends in my opinion. But anyway, the SA/ ENG , AUS/Wales series will be interesting. I feel sorry for Ireland, they are not in a good way. Maybe they need a new coach.

      • March 29th 2012 @ 2:58am
        Ben S said | March 29th 2012 @ 2:58am | ! Report

        ‘Before the Lions tour to SA the Lions management were going on about how they were going dominate this and dominate that. I remember in the first test in Durban the Lions made a huge noise about how they would target the SA scrum. And what happened? They were destroyed in the first half.’

        What did the Lions management say? I don’t remember any of this. Debatable re: destruction. Mtawarira was scrummaging ridiculously illegally and Bryce Lawrence has proven himself on many occasions to be utterly inept at refereeing a scrum. It’s no coincidence that Matfield said he was relieved not to have seen Euan Murray’s name on the teamsheet. Anyway, moot point.

        Mourtiz Botha has also been in England since he was 22.

        It doesn’t matter what Steyn has won. A team wins a Lions series, not a player. I’d take Flood every day of the week. Just because Steyn has won in NZ doesn’t mean he can attack the gainline like Flood, off-load like him or flick inside balls. Likewise just because Flood has won things in his world doesn’t mean he can kick tactically like Steyn. I’d also take Ashton and Foden over Pietersen and 15 in SA. We’ll have to wait and see who SA select at 13, but Tuilagi has already proven himself a punshing Test player. The SA backs have basically done nothing since the 2007 WC.

        Agree re: Declan Kidney.

        • March 29th 2012 @ 5:55am
          DeanMalone said | March 29th 2012 @ 5:55am | ! Report

          I respect your opinion and I guess time will tell. Steyn is by no means the best 10 in the world, but within the Bok context he does what is expected of him and he wins more games than he loses. One thing we can agree on i am sure of besides Kidney, is that all of these series will be very interesting and enjoyable. That said, I still believe SA will win the series.

        • March 30th 2012 @ 4:56am
          Loftus said | March 30th 2012 @ 4:56am | ! Report

          Oh please,Bennie,here we go again.Now you want to compare Flood with Steyn? Steyn has achieved more in one year than what Flood will achieve in his life time.I like Flood actually,but don’t compare him to a player that scored the fastest 100 test points in the history of the game and scored all the 32 points when SA beat the All Blacks in 2009 Tri nations.If Flood doesn’t play,nobody misses him – if Steyn doesn’t play,the other team think they have a chance.

          • March 30th 2012 @ 5:59am
            Ben S said | March 30th 2012 @ 5:59am | ! Report

            The day rugby stops being a game about 15 players and a game about a single person then I’ll be interested in the personal accolades of Steyn. Until then I’ll assess him on his qualities as a player – he is conservative, is a mediocre passer and fails to bring his backs into the game. When Butch James got a bit of game time last season I thought the South African backline looked twice as dangerous as it ever has with Steyn. He is a good Super player, but at Test level he’s severely limited.

            Conversely, Flood is a very good attacking player and a good kicker too. Nearly every good attacking English performance over the past four seasons has coincided with Flood starting at 10. It’s no coincidence that with Farrell and Hodgson the English backline looked totally at sea. Even when England got trounced in Dublin last season Flood was still getting over the gainline and bringing Chris Ashton into the game.

            You see how far Steyn’s tactical kicking takes the Springboks without Victor Matfield this season.

          • March 30th 2012 @ 6:14am
            mania said | March 30th 2012 @ 6:14am | ! Report

            i agree loftus – get sick of people writing off mSteyn. he’s an awesome player and is the epitome of accuracy. i dont think anyone actually realises the thousands of hours morne would’ve put in to be the player he is. every player has his short comings, and so does steyn, but what he does he does better than anyone else in the world at the mo.
            i’d love to see lambie as the eventual 1st5 but i’d have him learning his craft from morne. steyn has so much to offer still. morne maybe be predictable but that doesnt mean you can do anything to stop him.
            morne is the kind of player, because of his (predictable) accuracy you can build a entire game plan around.
            of the senior layers responsible for the demise of the boks i dont put morne in that group.

          • March 30th 2012 @ 7:01am
            Colin N said | March 30th 2012 @ 7:01am | ! Report

            “Oh please,Bennie,here we go again.Now you want to compare Flood with Steyn? Steyn has achieved more in one year than what Flood will achieve in his life time.”

            Doesn’t make him a better player. Stephen Donald won a World Cup and probably been part of winning Tri-Nations’ squads.

  • March 29th 2012 @ 5:24am
    mania said | March 29th 2012 @ 5:24am | ! Report

    this season needs to be put into context. its a rebuilding year and you should expect some losses. u cant put together a new team and expect to gel right away. when that happens then hopefully the enthusiasm of youth will fire up the team.
    aus seem to have kept the bulk of last years players but come mid year it depends on how many of them can front on the field.
    boks will have a new look. new coach will definately lead to a new breed of boks.
    AB’s, well we’ve lost some veterans but we also have a big quantity of quality rookies coming through. WC hangover? probably but the rookies coming through who didnt play in the WC will bring with them brash youthful enthusiasm.
    anyway as far as i’m concerned as long as we keep the bledisloe then any of the rest of this years games should be used as an opportunity to blood and test some of the up and comers.

  • March 29th 2012 @ 6:05am
    matthew said | March 29th 2012 @ 6:05am | ! Report

    I like this article. You can put money down on whats printed here. I’ll eat my hat if Wales or England win a game. I’ll eat my cat if Ireland beat NZ.

    • March 30th 2012 @ 11:15am
      Riccardo said | March 30th 2012 @ 11:15am | ! Report

      Meow…

  • March 29th 2012 @ 6:08am
    matthew said | March 29th 2012 @ 6:08am | ! Report

    F Steyn’s and Jaque fourite are backs with more pedigree than Englands. Hougaard the most talented back of the lot.

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