Is the North trending ahead of the South?

Nicholas Bishop Columnist

By Nicholas Bishop, Nicholas Bishop is a Roar Expert

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    Let’s forget the French for the moment – and for that matter, Italy too. The current resurgence enjoyed by the Northern Hemisphere is very clearly concentrated in the Home Unions of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

    The British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand fired the first warning shot, and the end-of-year internationals have confirmed it.

    That recent improvement in rugby fortunes is reflected in a table of the autumn results between the Home Unions and Rugby Championship nations.

    Nation New Zealand Australia South Africa Argentina
    England 30-6 21-8
    Ireland 38-3 28-19
    Scotland 17-22 53-24
    Wales 18-33 21-29 24-22

    That’s six wins for the North and only three for the South – and two of those were by world champions New Zealand.

    What is even more surprising is the try tally from the touring season, which worked out at 30 for the North and 23 for the South.

    In previous years, whatever the balance of results, the South could always be expected to score more tries than their opponents, who have traditionally relied on heavier forward power, defence and goal-kicking to win inter-Hemisphere contests.

    Now that narrative looks to be changing. In two of the three most significant games from the November series, the highest-ranked home sides, England and Ireland, beat Australia and South Africa respectively (who finished second and third in the Rugby Championship) by scoring four tries to nil.

    In the most spectacular upset, Scotland then scored eight against a Wallabies team depleted by the sending-off of Sekope Kepu at the end of the opening period.

    None of these events would have happened, or even threatened to happen, in previous seasons.

    One of the principal motivators in this shift is the greater depth of quality now available within the domestic game in the Northern Hemisphere, and that depth has been built by changes off the field.

    It was that depth which meant Scotland were able to overcome the loss of both their best attacking player (Stuart Hogg) in the pre-game warm-up, and the absence of seven other potential starting choices – WP Nel and Allan Dell at prop, Fraser Brown at hooker, Jonny Gray’s big brother, Richie, in the second row, John Hardie at number seven, centre Alex Dunbar and scrum-half Greig Laidlaw – and still rack up over 50 points.

    In Wales, the availability of national dual contracts, or NDCs, is attracting more and more proven international players back to the domestic game. The NDC is structured so the unions pay 60 per cent of the contracted player’s salary and therefore retains primacy of contract over the region, which pays the remaining 40 per cent.

    This means NDC players are available for training camps and matches which occur outside World Rugby’s allocated windows. Lions winger George North will return to Wales for the 2018-19 season from Northampton after a four-year sojourn in the English Premiership, and back-rower Ross Moriarty will make a similar move from Gloucester back to the Dragons at the same time, bringing the total of NDC players in the Welsh game up to 19.

    The trafficking of Welsh players to the English and French leagues has largely reversed as a result, with Rhys Webb’s recent move to Toulon the only example of a high-profile Wales player going in the opposite direction.

    The number of non-Wales qualified players in each regional squad is restricted to six, in addition to two ‘project players’ who can potentially qualify for the national team via residency.

    It was this greater concentration of talent which helped Wales tip up a Rugby Championship-strength Springbok side 24-22 on Saturday.

    Wales were missing most of their Lions from the summer, including Jonathan Davies, George North and Liam Williams in the backs and Sam Warburton, Ken Owens and Justin Tipuric up front, plus other experienced international forwards like Samson Lee, Tomas Francis, Jake Ball and Luke Charteris. They still come away with a tidy victory.

    To repeat, this would not have happened in previous seasons.

    Even in England, the domain of private ownership, the heavy financial incentivising of EQPs (English-qualified players) is leading to a production line of new home-grown talent. For example, a Premiership club can attract up to £800,000 in ‘academy credits’ for young players from the RFU and that is beginning to push foreign imports (at least the ones who aren’t stars) out of the depth chart.

    Look at the fate of Australian players down in Exeter. There are six Australians with Super Rugby experience or better at Sandy Lane – Greg Holmes, Ollie Atkins, Dave Dennis, Julian Salvi, Nic White and Lachie Turner. Only two of those (White and Salvi) could now be considered first choices with everyone fit and available on the Chiefs’ roster.

    Nic White kicks the ball during the opening game of the series between the Wallabies and the All Blacks at ANZ Stadium in Sydney, Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014. (Photo: Paul Barkley/LookPro)

    (Photo: Paul Barkley/LookPro)

    The other aspect of Northern Hemisphere improvement is on the field, where the rate of development in the attacking game has been given a large shove in the back by the new trial laws. The new breakdown rules have produced a faster ball-in-play tempo and a higher proportion of uncontested, or low-contest, breakdowns. This goes a long way to explaining the greater ‘trending’ emphasis on attack and scoring tries.

    The key changes are twofold:

    1. The tackler is only allowed to play at the ball after getting up and moving back around through the gate (previously he could get back on his feet and play at the ball from any direction); and,
    2. An attacking ‘cleaner’ does not now need to be in contact with an opponent in order to form a ruck, and hence create an offside line for the defence.

    Since the beginning of the 2017-2018 season in the Northern Hemisphere, these rule changes have tended to dissuade defensive sides from competing at the breakdown unless there is an obvious opportunity to win the ball.

    On Saturday in Cardiff, South Africa often committed two or more players to defensive breakdowns as they would have done under the old laws, particularly when Malcolm Marx was involved. They got some pay from it because Marx is such an outstanding operator on the ground, but the Welsh attitude to the breakdown was a noticeable contrast and very much ahead of the game.

    All the Welsh tacklers in these examples stood upright and tried to stay on their feet, and in the game, longer than the South African cleanout players. It was a principle they employed throughout the game.

    Both the Wales hooker Kristian Dacey or second rower Cory Hill could have mounted a contest over the ball, as fullback Andries Coetzee is momentarily isolated when he takes the ball into contact, but instead they pull out into defence, leaving two Springbok bodies out of play on the deck.

    Had the situation been reversed, one or both South African defenders would undoubtedly have taken the other option.

    The surplus of Welsh players on their feet meant South Africa only rarely threatened to penetrate the defensive screen.

    With number three Scott Andrews getting back to his feet just as Coetzee plays the ball at the base, Wales are winning the ‘players out of the game’ battle 4-1 and are able to cover both the pick and go and the acting scrum-half, forcing a turnover of possession due to obstruction.

    The extra players on their feet also enabled Wales to rush from a strong base at some critical moments:

    In the first frame, South Africa are camped only a couple of metres away from the Welsh goal-line, but all the Welsh defenders are on their feet with three Springboks on the ground. Despite the field position, this means that they can rush hard on the next phase, with Scott Williams getting into the lane between the passer (Pieter-Steph du Toit) and the receiver (Eben Etzebeth) to make the intercept.

    The second example occurred moments after South Africa had poured people into a counter-ruck to win back possession, and the sequence can be seen in real time here (31st-32nd minutes)

    South Africa’s emphasis on the breakdown wins the ball back for them, but symbolically it doesn’t slow down the rush on next phase, with Dan Biggar fully 14 metres past the base of the ruck as he blocks down Coetzee’s attempted clearance! As in the shot at 19:26, Wales have an extra defender in the right area at the right moment when Biggar blocks the kick to set up another the third try for Hadleigh Parkes.

    South Africa eventually lost the game through their unfamiliarity with the new breakdown rules. Du Toit attempts to get up and play at the ball without retiring back through the gate, and Leigh Halfpenny stepped up to kick the match-winning penalty:

    It was an unhappy day for the South African back three in general, and the lack of connection between full-back Coetzee and a new cap on the left wing in Warrick Gelant cost the Bokke two early tries.

    In the 4th minute, a crosskick from scrum by Biggar caught Gelant defending up with his midfield and Coetzee failing to cover the wide zone outside him:

    Three minutes later, Coetzee is defending much wider from the lineout, and turned out in expectation of the cross-kick, but Gelant has failed to move across to fill in at fullback:

    These were two poor tries to concede from a defensive viewpoint, and they may well have sounded the death-knell on Allister Coetzee’s career as Springboks coach.

    Summary
    The big surprise in the key end-of-year tour games was the try differential between the Northern teams and those from the South.

    England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales are learning to continue playing positive rugby in the absence of their key players and all of the home unions have greater strength in depth than before, due to policies which encourage both their best players to remain at home and the development of a youthful new generation underneath them.

    The new trial laws at the breakdown have also stimulated an existing momentum towards attack yet further. Defences now tend to focus on line-speed and numbers in the line rather than committing extra bodies at the tackle point.

    The fact South Africa did not fully recognise the importance of these changes before their final tour match at Cardiff, and the complete absence of backfield organisation for the first two Welsh tries, does not reflect well on their coaching team.

    On this evidence, it will take a Christmas miracle for Allister Coetzee’s international coaching career to be extended into the New Year.

    Nicholas Bishop
    Nicholas Bishop

    Nick Bishop has worked as a rugby analyst and advisor to Graham Henry (1999-2003), Mike Ruddock (2004-2005) and most recently Stuart Lancaster (2011-2015). He also worked on the 2001 British & Irish Lions tour to Australia and produced his first rugby book with Graham Henry at the end of the tour. Three more rugby books have followed, all of which of have either been nominated for or won national sports book awards. Nick's latest is a biography of Phil Larder, the first top Rugby League coach to successfully transfer over to Union, entitled The Iron Curtain. He is currently writing articles for The Roar and The Rugby Site, and working as a strategy consultant to Stuart Lancaster and the Leinster coaching staff for their European matches.

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    The Crowd Says (525)

    • Roar Guru

      December 6th 2017 @ 5:07am
      Machpants said | December 6th 2017 @ 5:07am | ! Report

      Thanks for the article, interesting as always. Yes the home unions are getting their ducks in a row, which has got to be good for rugby. It is good that you’ve pointed out the new laws, I think that really put the ABs and Wallabies on the back foot, and the awfully coached Boks were tactically clueless about it. Big changes like that to the laws are a huge advantage to a team already immersed in it. And it lost the Boks that last game!

      It would be interesting to see the tries scored whilst it was fifteen vs fifteen, and how much indiscipline is costing the southern nations. Cards galore for us this season.

      • Columnist

        December 6th 2017 @ 5:23am
        Nicholas Bishop said | December 6th 2017 @ 5:23am | ! Report

        Hi MP.

        I haven’t really looked at how the AB’s reacted to the new laws – better than South Africa, that’s for sure!

        Likewise only the AB’s seem to be able to respond to the loss of players to cards in a really systematic way. They could and prob should have won the second Test against the Lions because they did not lose control of the game until the final 10-15 minutes.

        • Roar Guru

          December 7th 2017 @ 5:16pm
          The Neutral View From Sweden said | December 7th 2017 @ 5:16pm | ! Report

          Likewise only the AB’s seem to be able to respond to the loss of players to cards in a really systematic way.

          Agree.

          Makes sense though, hence they push the limits of the laws pretty far inside their own 22 and playing with 14 men is the norm if the other team puts up a fight. When was the last time the AB’s played with the full 15 for 80 minutes when the Test was in balance?

      • December 6th 2017 @ 11:51am
        Rebellion said | December 6th 2017 @ 11:51am | ! Report

        I’d be interested to see how well the Boks and Wallabies would be going if they had addressed their two major respective issues:

        – Racial Quota
        – Waratah Quota

        Both issues create the same problems:

        1. worthy players heading OS because they can’t get a fair go at the selection table and
        2. juniors/supporters losing interest because they feel the national side is corrupted and not a true reflection of the collective rugby community.

        Food for thought.

        • December 6th 2017 @ 1:11pm
          Bill said | December 6th 2017 @ 1:11pm | ! Report

          How stupid. There were 3 Tah players in the team that got beaten by Scotland

          • Roar Pro

            December 6th 2017 @ 3:47pm
            Matt Davis said | December 6th 2017 @ 3:47pm | ! Report

            Hahahaha, but Bill, there’s a conspiracy!

          • December 6th 2017 @ 5:16pm
            Cynical Play said | December 6th 2017 @ 5:16pm | ! Report

            Old habits die hard

          • December 6th 2017 @ 9:04pm
            Rebellion said | December 6th 2017 @ 9:04pm | ! Report

            Impressive Stats Bill

            Would you also conclude Ipswich, Qld is cold place to live, simply because they recorded snowfall just a tick over 80 years ago??

            I guess you’ve really made me look foolish. How could I ever have thought Chieka would select the following players in his preferred match day 23:

            Kepu, Robertson, Hanigan, Dempsey, Hooper, Phipps, Foley, Beale and Folau

            That would make 9!

            You’re right in that there should only be three or four in the starting side, while Robertson, Hanigan and Phipps would be better off washing cars on a Saturday

            Happy to enlighten all the little Tah Boys as always*

            • December 7th 2017 @ 10:28am
              Buk said | December 7th 2017 @ 10:28am | ! Report

              Rebellion- if it smells like a Waratah quota, looks like a Waratah quota, & acts like a Waratah quota, then it may as well be described as a Waratah quota.
              May not be as institutionally entrenched as SA’s, but looks like a problem to me.

        • Columnist

          December 6th 2017 @ 5:42pm
          Nicholas Bishop said | December 6th 2017 @ 5:42pm | ! Report

          “Waratah quota” – very nice, gave me my wakeup laugh… Thanks Reb!

    • December 6th 2017 @ 5:08am
      Lostintokyo said | December 6th 2017 @ 5:08am | ! Report

      Thanks Nick. The tide certainly seems to be turning in favour of the Northern Hemisphere, and the reasons given by you suggest it may be difficult to stem the tide in the short term. Both Australian and South African rugby are at the lowest ebbs I have seen in the 50 years plus I have been watching.

      As you point out Nick by comparison, the foundation of the Southern problem may be structural, administrator related issues. Fans in both Australia and SA are not happy with the way their Unions are running things. Part of the problem to be fair is financial and even political in SA’s case which presents a big challenge.

      I will fall back on the adage “it is darkest before the dawn” and hope the ARU and the SARU can clean up their acts. Grassroots is a big part of the problem in Australia, not only at player level but coaches, referees, community involvement, fan support etc. It will take time to fix but ruby is in a healthy state world wide and the tide will turn again. Shortly we hope.

      • Columnist

        December 6th 2017 @ 7:59am
        Nicholas Bishop said | December 6th 2017 @ 7:59am | ! Report

        In the short term all of the SH nations can catch up via greater familiarity with the new rules (if they become permanent as I think they will). Longer term is the more difficult time-frame. How will SANZAAR evolve now that SA has a foothold in the NH? Will it look to expand or to consolidate? Will the All Blacks begin to lose first choices to club football in the North? While New Zealand has always been able to replenish its talent level, in many ways the All Blacks represent the last great barrier to a takeover by NH clubs and I feel that may be challenged over the next few years…

        • December 6th 2017 @ 11:03am
          Bakkies said | December 6th 2017 @ 11:03am | ! Report

          SARU wanted to establish two teams to send up to Europe by the end of this year. I haven’t seen any further news on this. I suppose the review in to the Boks’ performance will take greater priority.

          ‘Both Australian and South African rugby are at the lowest ebbs I have seen in the 50 years plus I have been watching.’

          Australian Rugby was worse off in the late 60s and early 70s.

          • December 6th 2017 @ 1:41pm
            Lostintokyo said | December 6th 2017 @ 1:41pm | ! Report

            Late sixties/ early seventies was pretty bad Bakkies, agree. One year they had to cancel an inbound tour due to lack of funds.
            But back then we had a wealth of talented kids preparing to take center stage a decade later. I don’t think we have that now. Even GPS schools are putting up AFL posts.

          • Columnist

            December 6th 2017 @ 5:45pm
            Nicholas Bishop said | December 6th 2017 @ 5:45pm | ! Report

            I guess the coach-hunt will be taking greater priority, if it hasn’t been decided already Bakkies. Coetzee seems determined not to fall on his own sword.

            • December 7th 2017 @ 10:49am
              Bakkies said | December 7th 2017 @ 10:49am | ! Report

              There is no reason for Coetzee to fall on his sword. His employers were stupid enough to not put a performance clause in his contract.

              • December 8th 2017 @ 12:24am
                Alex the jock said | December 8th 2017 @ 12:24am | ! Report

                He has a 65 % win clause amendment in season 2. But he is saying he saw significant improvement. The problem is the job was never advertised, it was given to him on a platter. They have broken all the rules and yet dry foul when not getting the RWC in 2023. Double standards.

        • December 6th 2017 @ 12:11pm
          Lostintokyo said | December 6th 2017 @ 12:11pm | ! Report

          Yes, the new rules pertaining to the breakdown are particularly important. Off your feet and out of the action.

          I wonder how the ARU’s investment in paying Pocock whilst on “holiday” overseas will work out? Do you think the evolution will hinder or help Pocock? His strength is staying on his feet but is the pilfer as relevant as it was a few years back?

          • December 6th 2017 @ 2:09pm
            Bakkies said | December 6th 2017 @ 2:09pm | ! Report

            Yes it is still important. Look at the amount of breakdown penalties Ireland won against the Boks.

          • Columnist

            December 6th 2017 @ 5:47pm
            Nicholas Bishop said | December 6th 2017 @ 5:47pm | ! Report

            It may actually increase Pocock’s importance Lost… Wales only really deployed their 7 Josh Navidi to contest rucks on his own (you can see him winning one turnover on the reel), so the value of the (few) guys who can do it unassisted may rise rather than fall.

            • Roar Guru

              December 6th 2017 @ 7:36pm
              Harry Jones said | December 6th 2017 @ 7:36pm | ! Report

              +1

            • Roar Rookie

              December 6th 2017 @ 10:44pm
              Kirky said | December 6th 2017 @ 10:44pm | ! Report

              Navidi, just another Kiwi playing up North!

              • Columnist

                December 7th 2017 @ 12:00am
                Nicholas Bishop said | December 7th 2017 @ 12:00am | ! Report

                Yeah one of those Kiwis with an Welsh mother and Iranian father IIRC 😀

              • December 7th 2017 @ 2:05am
                FunBus said | December 7th 2017 @ 2:05am | ! Report

                …and born in that well known Kiwi town of………Bridgend.

              • Columnist

                December 7th 2017 @ 4:53am
                Nicholas Bishop said | December 7th 2017 @ 4:53am | ! Report

                !!

              • Roar Guru

                December 7th 2017 @ 6:58pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | December 7th 2017 @ 6:58pm | ! Report

                Has Kirky ever been right about anything ever?

              • Roar Rookie

                December 7th 2017 @ 11:58pm
                Kirky said | December 7th 2017 @ 11:58pm | ! Report

                Kirky!! I’ll answer my own post to expressly apologise to all and sundry for quoting that fine Welsh player Josh Navidi as being a Kiwi! ~ I have to admit I’ve never heard of or seen the guy play till the other day, but in all my daily rugby browsing from here there and everywhere, I remembered somewhere or other in a column about Navidi being a Kiwi, which at the time I thought was a bit odd, because as I say I had never heard of him, but against my better judgement I decided to go along with that just for the sheer temerity of it and to possibly start a rugby ruckus’, So, I like Nick and others having seen my post regarding the Welsh Loosie’, checked good old Wikipedia and lo and behold I was wrong~ ~ Damnit’!

                Fun bus! Get your Geography right mate Bridgend isn’t in New Zealand, I thought everyone knew about that! Cheers mate!

                Sweden you are a smart butt know all from Santa Claus Territory and could I suggest to you buttercup that just be on your game because making rash statements like you have about myself, is very much leaving yourself wide open for criticism.

                If anything I post on here bugs you enough, why don’t
                you address your smart alec quotes to me instead of telling the whole World on this fine Public Rugby Forum?

                I don’t suggest for a minute that I would know all and everything about the game, (none of us ids that good), but I’m and old Octo’ mate and have been around the traps for a long time, like 1943 having my first game of rugby, and have probably forgotten more about the game than you’ll ever get to know about!

              • Roar Guru

                December 8th 2017 @ 1:46pm
                taylorman said | December 8th 2017 @ 1:46pm | ! Report

                Wow 43 was your first game?….legend!?

        • Roar Rookie

          December 6th 2017 @ 3:09pm
          Kirky said | December 6th 2017 @ 3:09pm | ! Report

          Nick! I don’t think the North will ever surpass the South entirely, it will in the short term very likely as the Wallabies are very ordinary at the moment and the South Africans as you know well are ruined by Political influence, the Pumas are still the Pumas and of course the Japanese are still the hopeless case for lots of reasons and will very likely get nowhere in the future, (in saying that though a great percentage of the Japanese Test side are Foreigners and that’s how they may survive)!

          That leaves the All Blacks, and I cannot see them ever being surpassed by any Northern International team, ~ the English will try and may beat the Kiwis from time to time, but never as a norm.

          The All Blacks will get beaten and may even lose their usual spot at number 1 occasionally, but if they do, which is virtually a given remembering that no sporting team can win all the time, you can almost bet on it that they’ll be back in the accustomed possie’ of Number 1 as quickly as they can, ~ that is and has been the normal procedure for the very few times it has occurred and therefore I doubt very much that any Northern side will usurp all the Southern teams, ~ the majority are easy beats, but the All Blacks are a different beast and they haven’t been at the pinnacle of rugby for well over a 100 years for nothing and if perchance they lose the top spot, I would guarantee they’d be back up there in a very short period of time.

          At the end of the day, the Kiwis have virtually taught the World of rugby how to play rugby because every International Team playing the game use the Kiwi model as a yardstick, they all aspire to be like them, always have!

          Those who change the rugby Laws with ridiculous regularity just because they can, I would say that the reason for those said changes in most cases would be to try and nullify the brilliance of the New Zealand All Black National side, who at the end of the day are past masters at adaptation, ~ think Richie McCaw, he was so good at what he did they changed and created Laws because of the fact he was as good as he was.

          So I can’t imagine the Northerners making many inroads on the incessant winning culture of the All Blacks at all as the All Blacks are after all, the All Blacks!

          • Columnist

            December 6th 2017 @ 5:50pm
            Nicholas Bishop said | December 6th 2017 @ 5:50pm | ! Report

            That leaves the All Blacks, and I cannot see them ever being surpassed by any Northern International team, ~ the English will try and may beat the Kiwis from time to time, but never as a norm.

            If feeling for rugby, and depth of valuation of the game were everything, I’d agree with you Kirky. But in the current phase of the game world-wide it does indeed appear that it is money which is talking loudest, sadly. The RFU and the English clubs seem to have more of it than anyone else at present, so that they can even afford to co-operate!

            I would add that current law trials should if anything favour the AB’s as the game is quicker than before.

            • Roar Rookie

              December 6th 2017 @ 11:34pm
              Kirky said | December 6th 2017 @ 11:34pm | ! Report

              Nick, Thanks for that, but how is money going to turn the game up North into a World beating variety?, ~ the way I see it the Kiwis are top of the pile as they have been for a fair period of time and for all the bleating by Eddie the Mouth as to how good the England team is and is going to be, the complete crux of the matter is, they’ve got to get themselves in the right frame of mind and even if perchance they do, no money that the Rugby set up, Club or International can come up with will make them automatic favourites to beat the All Blacks, it won’t happen as the Kiwis are absolute guns at adaptation, have been always,and you can bet all that money you speak of, that no All Black team will just go out on the Park and roll over, they have always had that built in mindset of winning rugby and I can’t see that changing!

              As for the rest of the South, we all know the ins and outs of other teams involved and what happens in their area, who knows!

          • Roar Guru

            December 6th 2017 @ 10:34pm
            Rugby Fan said | December 6th 2017 @ 10:34pm | ! Report

            Which law changes have been aimed at nullifying the All Blacks? I can’t think of any.

            Most law changes in the professional era have aimed at making the gamer (1) safer, or (2) faster. The greatest desire for change has usually been in the south, particularly Australia, who want a more entertaining spectacle to rival League.

            Consequently, we’ve seen attempts to increase the time ball is in play, and de-power set piece advantage. To the extent anyone has been disadvantaged, it has been the more static teams in the North.

            • Roar Rookie

              December 6th 2017 @ 11:47pm
              Kirky said | December 6th 2017 @ 11:47pm | ! Report

              Rugby Fan: You know or you should know that the All Blacks were and still are the past masters of scrum, ruck and mauls, and in recent times the best loose forward player that ever graced a rugby ground, name of McCaw developed the art of getting the upper hand in all those contact areas, nobody but nobody was and still isn’t as good as he at that ”art”!, he owned it!

              The powers that be decided enough was enough this guy needs to be taken down a peg or two and for a number of years, subtle close play rules came into force hopefully to stifle the effectiveness of McCaw, it was a regular occurrence which achieved nothing, he was that good!

              It happened alright and no doubt it still happens!

              Some of those new and altered Laws were just so ridiculous they were laughable, and by jove old chap! they never worried the All Blacks!

              • Roar Guru

                December 7th 2017 @ 1:42am
                Rugby Fan said | December 7th 2017 @ 1:42am | ! Report

                The England World-cup winning team were masters of the maul. So good in fact, that opposition teams claimed they had no legal way to defend it. Shortly after that we saw the introduction of the ELVs which made it legal to collapse a maul. That’s a direct example of a law change which was aimed at nullifying another team’s advantage.

                If you think there were law changes introduced to nullify McCaw, then it should be easy to point out what they were. “Subtle close play rules” doesn’t match any announcement by IRB/World Rugby. I certainly can’t recall any law change aimed at clipping New Zealand’s wings.

                Now of course, laws say you can’t collapse a maul. Funnily enough, teams then managed to develop the same skill that old England side had, and now more teams kick penalties to the corner to try and use the maul as an attacking threat.

            • December 7th 2017 @ 12:14am
              FunBus said | December 7th 2017 @ 12:14am | ! Report

              What you fail to understand, RF, is that Kirky has disovered through his contacts that every law change, ref interpretation, competition structure, points system, RWC draw, media article, and financial change has been dreamt up by Lord St John Phatang Phatang Ole Biscuit Barrel Farquarhason who lives in a castle somewhere just outside London where he eats wholesome Kiwi children for breakfast and works, exclusively, 24 hours a day to do the brave colonials down.

              • Roar Guru

                December 7th 2017 @ 3:35am
                Derm McCrum said | December 7th 2017 @ 3:35am | ! Report

                Obviously a close relation of the Tarquin Fin-tim-lin-bin-whin-bim-lim-bus-stop-F’tang-F’tang-Olé Biscuitbarrels of North Fudge Pidding.

              • December 7th 2017 @ 5:43am
                Funbus said | December 7th 2017 @ 5:43am | ! Report

                His Uncle, I believe.

              • December 7th 2017 @ 6:17am
                FunBus said | December 7th 2017 @ 6:17am | ! Report

                His uncle, I believe, PA.
                ?

              • Roar Rookie

                December 8th 2017 @ 12:33am
                Kirky said | December 8th 2017 @ 12:33am | ! Report

                Bus’ that’s a good post from just another Englishman well versed in intelligentsia and uncommon sense!

                Smell the roses Rosebud!

          • December 7th 2017 @ 3:19am
            Alan said | December 7th 2017 @ 3:19am | ! Report

            If anything I would say the exact opposite. In the long run England will become the dominant rugby nation. They simply have too much money and too many players in the long runs the ABs will be left behind. In 10-20 years people will wonder how the abs where ever so dominant.

            • December 7th 2017 @ 6:26am
              FunBus said | December 7th 2017 @ 6:26am | ! Report

              I’m not so sure, Alan. There’s a special allure to the AB shirt, so I’m doubtful NZ will start losing lots of starters. Also there are some myths about the number of players in England. Some of the silly numbers quoted include lots of kids signed up for a taster one afternoon in school who might never pick up a ball again. Even the figures for senior male players don’t show that many more guys take up rugby later either at university or after, both of which are irrelevant for the top level. If you’re a top athlete in NZ it would be unlikely you would have played no rugby at school. It’s Unlikely you would have in England. It’s still a minority sport, and many of the English clubs are at the edge of their financial means. I can’t see them securing a game-changing TV deal given the numbers.
              I’d settle for England maintaining the improvements in their development pathways. That should guarantee top 3 or 4 in perpetuity, with a more regular tilt at number 1.

              • December 7th 2017 @ 8:43am
                Alan said | December 7th 2017 @ 8:43am | ! Report

                Whilst numbers may be exaggerated they still greatly outnumber NZ a population of 60 million is always gonna have an advantage over 4 million. And rugby union isn’t a minority sport it’s second most popular. Half as popular as football but twice as popular as the next most popular sport. Also rugby is losing its reputation as a private school sport as more people play it from different backgrounds. It’s also popular as the big private schools are more likely to give scholarships for rugby than football or other sports so for many it’s a route to better education providing incentive. There’s simply too many people in England compared to NZ they will eventually overtake. NZ reached its potential as rugby so already its most favourite sport where as there’s a lot of room for growth in England and the game is still growing.

              • December 7th 2017 @ 9:20pm
                FunBus said | December 7th 2017 @ 9:20pm | ! Report

                Not disputing your figures or that rugby is on the up in England with the result that England will be a consistently bigger threat to NZ dominance. The comment on numbers was more about the past. When you break the figures down it’s much more explicable why England hasn’t been consistently dominant in the past, particularly when other factors are included. All things being equal, sheer numbers will win out. All things are rarely equal, though.

              • Roar Guru

                December 8th 2017 @ 5:22pm
                taylorman said | December 8th 2017 @ 5:22pm | ! Report

                Well I thought the biggest myth was the number of english players with xfactor.

                Have they found one yet FB?

                Ive seen nessie and the yetti but this is really out there.

            • Roar Rookie

              December 8th 2017 @ 12:56am
              Kirky said | December 8th 2017 @ 12:56am | ! Report

              Alan, you’re clutching at straws mate, do you think that a certain team around that’s been at the pinnacle of rugby since the 1890s, is going to let the English run all over them, you’d be very unwise to opine that theory, because all the money in the World the Rugby Union is going on about will never make players any better than they always have been, so a good exercise for you would be to just check the Stats’, and see for yourself the win/loss ratio between the Poms and that ”certain, other team”, doesn’t make good reading for you guys!

              I would say that the Kiwis would walk over broken glass to get at the Poms, even to the extent of losing to Australia who they’d use for practice, ~ They would give anything to take the Poms down a size as they like most are heartily sick of the incessant goings on by them about how good they are and nobody but nobody is ever going to beat them! also with a bit of luck it may shut Eddie the Mouth up from his blowbag predictions!

              England will never be dominant as they are who they are, and they’re not good enough, the All Blacks will never be left behind as you say, after all the Lions Rampant are using New Zealand methods all over the Park, I doubt we’ll ever see a Kiwi team lying down, particularly against the Poms, won’t happen!

              • Roar Guru

                December 8th 2017 @ 6:42am
                Derm McCrum said | December 8th 2017 @ 6:42am | ! Report

                They would give anything to take the New Zealanders down a size as they like most are heartily sick of the incessant goings on by them about how good they are and nobody but nobody is ever going to beat them! “

                Ever looked in the mirror, Kirky mate? It’s this new-fangled thing everyone’s using in the 21st century. Keeps us sixty-year olds grounded. Not sure about you octogenarians though. Were they giving points for tries in your day or just for kicks at the posts?

              • December 8th 2017 @ 7:24pm
                Alan said | December 8th 2017 @ 7:24pm | ! Report

                I’m sorry but u kiwis are deluded u think there’s some undefinable quality that makes u good at rugby. It’s not it just ur the only nation where rugby is the popular sport. As England develop the game further and more athletes come into the system due to the considerable investestment by the rfu England will overtake NZ there’s no doubt in my mind about it. And money does make a difference ur deluded if u think it’s doesn’t, just look at brad shields he turned down the all black call up so he has a chance of playing for England. Getting payed nearly double the money per game is an attractive prospect. Also u can earn a lot more money at English clubs and that is and will draw more players into the English sytsem. Sorry but NZ are on the decline give it 10-20 years and then we’ll see.

              • Roar Rookie

                December 8th 2017 @ 7:39pm
                piru said | December 8th 2017 @ 7:39pm | ! Report

                It’s certainly definable

                It’s a hundred plus years of tradition and pride in our excellence in the game.

                It’s a whole country (small though it may be) focused on making the national team the best in the world, all other considerations secondary.

                If you think you can wave some money around and change that well, you believe what you like.

                You can buy facilities, players and coaches.

                You can’t buy dedication, mana and pride in the jersey.

                You can throw money at our players and you’ll get the odd one, but you’ll get our McAlisters and Te’os, not our Carters and McCaws.

              • Columnist

                December 8th 2017 @ 8:09pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | December 8th 2017 @ 8:09pm | ! Report

                Piru, nobody doubts New Zealand’s excellence at the game, from the head (the AB’s) all the way down to the (grass) roots – at least I don’t.

                But I do find it strange that what is clearly an article about the genuine improvements being made in the NH (some of which are being, or have been engineered by New Zealanders) has been somehow misunderstood at times as an attack on New Zealand rugby itself.

                How can it be construed that way?? Scotland, Ireland and Wales are not rich unions and cannot buy their way success, nor have they tried. They’ve simply cut their cloth to the rules and the little money they have available. Yes they have a few ‘project players’ unwanted by their home countries but so what? Their impact has not been anything other than minor in the context of team development as a whole. They can easily be replaced by someone just as good – Bundee Aki by Garry Ringrose for example, and Hadleigh Parkes by Jonathan Davies.

                Scotland are succeeding because of good coaching, good innovation and good player concentration in their two professional teams. They are making the best of themselves – and good luck to all three of the Celtic nations for making the effort.

              • December 9th 2017 @ 7:56am
                Taylorman said | December 9th 2017 @ 7:56am | ! Report

                You see Nick youre struggling with the concept yourself by throwing in the unwanted by NZ tag. We want them, we just dont have the money to keep them here, the number of teams to play them in.

                If you want to throw in the Its not our fault NZers want to come to the all rich and powerful Wonderful world of Oz then thats fine but you simply continue on with the view tha thas all neither here nor there.

                The average English player doesnt start his career thinking whether he should try his luck for england or travel half way around the workd where every kid over 15 with talent here will have that on his mind in some degree.

                So we have to juggle that continuously and hope were doing enough to expose them as All Blacks, that being the best chance of keeping them, or give them enough incentives to stay. In the case of Piutau, Cruden, Faumuina etc we’re failing on both accounts.

                English players at the same age probably struggle with moving two hours from mums home cooking or an hour from their mrs.

                When players leave our shores, we lose tests, fact. Had we had the use of Carter, Nonu, Smith, Piutau etc and several others playing either Super or AB rugby we most likely would have won the Lions series, simply because the workload on the squad at either level would have been lighter, the midfield options a little better, certainly in terms of replacements.

                So you fail to contemplate the impact of having dozens of fully fledged professionals of your own playing out this way and if you did have that you wouldnt be talking about the grounds the north are making on the south. They would be regressing terribly, test wins would be rare, if ever.

                The gains are made by one word.

                Money.

                Not one current member of the English squad has a reasonable amount of x factor. Theyre all what we call journeymen. Good but not special. The odd shining light scattered about.

                For every Hogg you have we have Barrett, Mackenzie, Ioane, milner skudder and a few others, all players capable of splitting games open.

                Theyll come, but at the moment the squad is simply better instructed, selected and drilled than it used to be.

              • Columnist

                December 9th 2017 @ 8:36am
                Nicholas Bishop said | December 9th 2017 @ 8:36am | ! Report

                I think your view is encapsulated by your opinion of the current England squad:

                Not one current member of the English squad has a reasonable amount of x factor. Theyre all what we call journeymen. Good but not special. The odd shining light scattered about.

                However well-drilled they may be, teams full of journeymen do not win 22 out of 23 international games in two years.

                On the other hand you over-rate for example, the four AB’s you do mention – BB, McKenzie, Ioane and Milner-Skudder. All terrifically-talented, but all incomplete as Test products for different reasons.

                Brodie Retallick is an outstanding second row, but get beyond him and IMO England have three better second rows than anyone else available to the AB’s, and a handful of their ‘journeymen’ would already be good enough to make the AB starting XV. The margin between the two teams is already tight, not the yawning gap you appear to want to believe.

              • December 9th 2017 @ 12:55pm
                Connor33 said | December 9th 2017 @ 12:55pm | ! Report

                But Nic, how can we question the notion that others are actually improving on the ABs? It’s heracy. And your article probably touched a very raw, insecure nerve for many across the ditch. But hey, I guess we need to accept it—along with the poisoning in 1995 and that forward pass in 2007, though thankfully we didn’t hear any excuses in 2003 when England won the World Cup…

              • December 9th 2017 @ 1:53pm
                Taylorman said | December 9th 2017 @ 1:53pm | ! Report

                ’22 out of those 23′ coincides with the worst Wallaby and South African sides in living memory so take those two out and not playing NZ and you get a lot of England wins. This is a very unusual period and England have made the most of it. Only three years ago Oz and SA were ahead of all the NH including England. SA and Oz have dropped off dramatically, evidenced by the margins against some average AB sides, and losses to sides like Japan, Italy, Scotland, who admittedly are improving.

                And Im not saying the current AB side is anything special so yeah, some of those players might make the NZ side, but they wouldnt remove either Whitelock nor Retallick, forget that as a conversation. And add back smith and the boys we had two years ago and England pale even further. This AB side is also light in terms of x factor, but we have a great deal more than England still.

                So luck in timing in the last two seasons has greatly assisted England. This AB side doesnt have the calibre or experience of the others as you infer, but many have the potential, and the skills, as do some of the English.

                But I look at any of the current English side and none inspires to start comparing to the greats of the game. Not even close. If you cant see that their relative competition has dropped off ‘remarkeably’ since 2015 then Id be amazed.

                Oddly, same thing happened in 2003 when SA were also at a three or four year low, and 99 ton03 was one of the worst AB years, and not because of England.

                One thing is cetain though, England are not sending professionals south by the dozens, all three of SA, Oz and NZ certainly are.

              • Columnist

                December 9th 2017 @ 8:01pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | December 9th 2017 @ 8:01pm | ! Report

                The period is not so unusual as you want to make out Tman, and the Australian team in particular is not as bad as you claim it to be… all things run in cycles, England and the other home unions are simply (for once!) taking advantage of an upswing in their fortunes – just as England did in 2002-2003, when they were the best side in the world for a couple of years. But it took a lot of hard work, and that work is going on now too… Hopefully it won’t be completely wasted as it was the first time around 🙂

                I wonder how many of that England class of 2003 you considered world-leaders in their positions at the time? Interesting question.

                For mine, and on the basis of the Lions tour, Maro Itoje and Brodie Retallick would be the natural partnership in the second row of a combined England/NZ side. Likewise, I suspect any neutral coach given control of both teams would want both Kieran Read and Billy Vunipola in his B/R.

                In the backs, George Ford is a more complete player than Beauden Barrett at 10. He doesn’t have as much X-factor no, but he thinks his way through games better and knows how to adapt to changing situations. I have yet to see evidence of that in BB’s management of the game.

                Even wing would be an interesting choice. Rieko Ioane on X-factor yes, but again Elliott Daly is a more complete player than Ioane – has a very good left foot kicking game, plays better than Ioane as a full-back when he has to move there. So it’s not all black-and-white as you seem to think. Anthony Watson and Waisake Naholo ditto.

                Owen Farrell would ofc be there as the best pressure goal-kicker on the planet, aside from his other gifts!

                Problem is, I suspect you don’t see the argument in these terms – NZ lost an incredible quantity of Rugby IP in the retirement of three complete players in Carter, Nonu and Smith at the same time, and I doubt that intelligence has been adequately replaced, especially with Ben Smith out injured. Can you see that as a fact?

              • December 10th 2017 @ 2:46am
                Taylorman said | December 10th 2017 @ 2:46am | ! Report

                Oh absolutely, but that was a given, and it took the Lions to expose that, but you also have to look at the results. For all that lost IP they only lost one test in 2016 and two in 17, one the Lions.

                So its hardly capitulation stuff compared to the mess say England found itself in 2015. Youre pointing out things on paper that arent as significant as you make them out to be. In terms of results the ABs have barely shifted gears, both sides were having one or two losses a year. In fact only one loss since the World cup actually mattered in terms of a title, and even then they didnt lose that title. So in teal terms how big is that IP loss?

                Point is they have to move on, and have. Yes wed like to have McCaw forever, but we cant. ABs dont dwell on that sort of thing. The jerseys in new hands and the story continues.

                In your comparison of Ford and Barrett Ford may be a more rounded 10 but in terms of impact on the paddock, match winning ability he isnt even in the same park as Barrett. Yet you describe it as though hes a preferred selection. No coach would put Ford at 10 before Barrett if their life depended on it. Not even Jones. I mean Ford wasnt nominated for anything was he? Nor Daly? The games not about ones perception or theory of it, its about turning up and producing the goods on the field. And on the field I saw Bb and Ioane doing a lot more stuff than those two.

                Its like when people say Lomu couldnt turn fast enough to defend so wasnt the complete winger. They look for the trees rather than the wood. Scoring tiny points when the bigger picture’s obvious.

              • Columnist

                December 10th 2017 @ 5:03am
                Nicholas Bishop said | December 10th 2017 @ 5:03am | ! Report

                Point is they have to move on, and have. Yes wed like to have McCaw forever, but we cant. ABs dont dwell on that sort of thing. The jerseys in new hands and the story continues.

                Well why don’t you move on then? You mentioned the absence of Carter, Nonu and Smith in a previous post as a kind of unfortunate absence, and I have the impression you’re still struggling to come to terms with the Lions series back in June overall. You can probably add the Scotland game a few weeks ago to that list now… It’s okay to be confused about why the AB’s have not been more dominant against NH opponents this year!

                And on the field I saw Bb and Ioane doing a lot more stuff than those two.

                Yes – but that doesn’t mean of lot of important work isn’t being done that you’re not so aware of in a live game. Hence my comment that X-factor isn’t everything.

                P.S. To put either Barrett or Ioane in the Lomu category is stretching it a bit! Lomu’s impact on the pro game was massive and unmatched. The weaknesses in Barrett and Iaone’s games far closer to balancing out their strengths than they ever did with the great man!

              • December 10th 2017 @ 8:34am
                Taylorman said | December 10th 2017 @ 8:34am | ! Report

                Well I was referring to the loss of the IP, I for you welcomed those players leaving, one because they were all resigned to it, an two because I still think in some ways they were bottlenecks to the talent coming through.

                Lomu was an example of comparing his value as a player to the role of the position when in both cases, Barrett and Lomu were far bigger than just their number.

                Barrett for example has extreme pace on the field, not as a straight out sprinter out of the blocks but in a true rugby sense, maximising his pace for the situation, there are fast players, but none use their pace and anticipation anywhere near the way and number of times Barrett does.

                https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=JPhVuvk5wbs

                This is something that doesnt come with the standard 10 role. This is why Barrett is considered the best player around. He does things no one else does with such a regularity it sets him apart.

              • December 9th 2017 @ 12:28pm
                JimmyB said | December 9th 2017 @ 12:28pm | ! Report

                The thing that you don’t seem to understand Nick is that Kiwi’s as a general rule are very epidermically challenged, so unless copious amounts of smoke is blown up the collective Kiwi backside, then it’s seen as an attack on Kiwi rugby, Kiwi’s, Peter Jackson, Sheep, etc.
                That and the fact that posters like Kirky and Taylorman are pathologically incapable of conversing on any topic without drawing it back to an attack on the English and everything that is wrong with them.
                ?

              • December 9th 2017 @ 1:35pm
                Fionn said | December 9th 2017 @ 1:35pm | ! Report

                ‘Brodie Retallick is an outstanding second row, but get beyond him and IMO England have three better second rows than anyone else available to the AB’s, and a handful of their ‘journeymen’ would already be good enough to make the AB starting XV.’

                Nick, which three locks do you think would make a combined 23? Retallick, Itoje and Launchbury/Lawes? I’ve never understood the Kruis love, to be honest…

                As it is, I think you’re right, Nick, the chasm is not nearly so wide as some would believe.

                I still think the Kiwis are currently the better team, but if England continues improving then they should provide a stern challenge when the two teams eventually play. I can’t wait.

              • December 9th 2017 @ 5:19pm
                Taylorman said | December 9th 2017 @ 5:19pm | ! Report

                Whitelock would not be dropped for Itoje, Launchberry, Lawes or anyone other English lock.

                The only lock I feel would threate!n his position if possible would be Etsebeth, who I, and many, rate higher than any of the English locks.

              • Columnist

                December 9th 2017 @ 7:43pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | December 9th 2017 @ 7:43pm | ! Report

                Nick, which three locks do you think would make a combined 23? Retallick, Itoje and Launchbury/Lawes?

                Yes I think exactly that Fionn. Sam Whitelock has been a true warrior for the AB’s and is an excellent player in his own right, but those England three are special players. Joe Launchbury for example couldn’t get on the Lions tour in the summer but he would comfortably make any of the the Kiwi SR starting sides. He has exactly the skill-set New Zealand looks for in its second rows, and an intelligent man to boot!

                George Ford at 10 is another who’s vastly under-rated – prob by people who just haven’t seen enough of him to know – but he’s a better game-manager and tactician than any of the Kiwi 10’s including BB. Barrett might get the nod in selection because of his extraordinary athletic gifts but Ford is the more complete player, and I think he’d be in an AB 23-man squad ahead of Sopoaga or Mo’unga…

              • December 9th 2017 @ 9:24pm
                adastra32 said | December 9th 2017 @ 9:24pm | ! Report

                Ohh dear Nick, expect to hear from The Roar’s NZ supremacists very soon for suggesting that Ford is a better bet than theirs ;-).

              • Columnist

                December 9th 2017 @ 10:03pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | December 9th 2017 @ 10:03pm | ! Report

                In all honesty it would be hard to exclude Barrett because his athletic talents are so great, but he is still not the complete package as a 10 – that should be obvious Ads!

              • December 9th 2017 @ 10:51pm
                adastra32 said | December 9th 2017 @ 10:51pm | ! Report

                Unfortunately, the obvious does not exist for those who are blind to it!

              • December 10th 2017 @ 1:41am
                Taylorman said | December 10th 2017 @ 1:41am | ! Report

                Who is?

              • December 9th 2017 @ 1:55pm
                Taylorman said | December 9th 2017 @ 1:55pm | ! Report

                JimmyB at least Im talking rugby, not the same old gibberish you and thevswede churn out when you dont like what you see.

                Argue the point then, chump.

                For instance, which of the current English side rates up there with either the greatest players of all time, or, failing that, the greatest English players of all time, remembering that great sides are supposed to produce great players.

                In the ABs for example, who arent as good a side in that respect this year, I would say Ben Smith is the best fullback in the hame today and rivals Christian Cullen as the best in the AB pro era.

                Aaron Smith would rate by some as the best AB ever, not all, but some.

                Barrett has more x factor than probably any player in the game in ten years.

                The two AB locks would arguably be the best AB locks of all time and weve had some great locking pairs.

                But in other positions, we’re not there yet and that makes us vulnerable.

                Where are those England names?

                Its still my contention that England have hit a purple patch, one where the same team has got its act together and that that has coincided with the massive drop in levels of SA and Oz.

                That explains the turnaround more than England simply has better players, cos largely, they dont. Halfback? Ten? Wingers? Midfield? Loosies? All journeymen as far as the elite level from what I can see.

              • December 9th 2017 @ 2:05pm
                Taylorman said | December 9th 2017 @ 2:05pm | ! Report

                AB 9 in Smith…

              • December 9th 2017 @ 2:06pm
                ClarkeG said | December 9th 2017 @ 2:06pm | ! Report

                Whereas as a general rule it can be said that a few people like Jimmy like to make up general rules (and throw in an impressive word or two to pretend to anyone interested how clever they might be) about a group when they have a dislike towards one or two from that group.

                Anyone can make up a general rule to suit. I find as a general rule that people who like to make these sorts of coarse generalisations never tire of making them no matter how tiresome it all is hearing it over and over and over again. 🙂

              • December 9th 2017 @ 2:14pm
                ClarkeG said | December 9th 2017 @ 2:14pm | ! Report

                Gee it’s getting harder and harder to post without the moderator stepping in.

                It’s like the TMO…check check.

              • December 9th 2017 @ 2:25pm
                ClarkeG said | December 9th 2017 @ 2:25pm | ! Report

                Connor…if you would accept the food poisoning and forward pass thingees then it would be good because you are leading the pack in continually bringing them up. 🙂

              • December 9th 2017 @ 5:48pm
                Fionn said | December 9th 2017 @ 5:48pm | ! Report

                I’d agree that Retallick and Etzebeth might be the two best locks in the world.

                I think you underrate the English locks though.

                I wasn’t asking your opinion on the locks, however, as I could guess that you would rate the English ones lower than the Kiwi ones, but Nick’s opinion.

              • December 9th 2017 @ 7:00pm
                JimmyB said | December 9th 2017 @ 7:00pm | ! Report

                Taylorman, there is little to no point arguing the point with you I’m afraid as you’re a wilfully ignorant bell-end.
                You hijack literally every thread going with you’re two favourite topics, the impenetrable brilliance of the ABs and the utter ineptitude of ‘the north’…and you think I’m boring.
                Clarke, thanks for very quickly proving my point.

              • December 10th 2017 @ 8:50am
                Taylorman said | December 10th 2017 @ 8:50am | ! Report

                Then dont argue then jimmyb, but you dont have to cry about it several times. Like it or not northern rugby constitutes a threat to its southern equivalent, not because of the talent it does or more correctly doesnt produce, but because despite its huge resources it has to lend so HEAVILY on ours.

                I dont care about why that is, I just know as a fan its directly affecting our ability to compete at both club and international level. So I wont let any north south discussion take place without that consideration. Happy for you to discuss the merits of the goodiness of the northern game amongst your peers but dont preach to others about how they should approach the subject.

                For me its a bit like saying lets discuss the truly great things Trump has achieved so far and not talk about anything else. Perhaps a stark comparison, but illustrates the point.

              • December 9th 2017 @ 8:00pm
                Fionn said | December 9th 2017 @ 8:00pm | ! Report

                Interesting to hear you regard Ford so highly. I mean, I know he is good, but I would have rated him below Finn Russell and Sexton in terms of NH flyhalfs. I’ll have to watch him more closely this 6N.

                I actually thought that Cruden was the best option at 10 for the All Blacks after Carter left. Beauden was in incredible form in 2016, but form like that never lasts forever—even Federer and Djokovic only had a few years each of year-long incredible form. After that form dropped I thought it was clear that Cruden’s game management and all-round skillset would be missed. This seems to have happened, as Beauden has cost both the All Blacks (vs the Lions) and the Hurricanes (vs the Crusaders, Chiefs and Lions) in big matches this year.

                To be honest I still can’t believe that Launchbury didn’t make the Lions squad. He would have been in my Lions 23 any day. Maybe I’m overrating him, but I almost feel that he is the all-round best English lock at present (Itoje will probably overtake him, but I’m not certain he has done it yet). I wish he was a Wallaby..

                P.S. cheers for all the responses, Nick. I (and many others) really do appreciate your engagement. And I always learn a lot from you—even if I cannot agree that Cheika should remain as coach 😛

              • Columnist

                December 9th 2017 @ 8:07pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | December 9th 2017 @ 8:07pm | ! Report

                I think Aaron Cruden has been missed the most of all the European departures from NZ. But would Hansen and co have picked him ahead of BB if he’d stayed? I don’t know. But he and Aaron Smith are the best half-back pairing NZ could field from the point of view of game management, that’s for sure.

                I think Eddie is looking for ways for accommodate Launchbury, Itoje and Lawes in his run-on side. All three are too good to leave out.

              • December 9th 2017 @ 8:11pm
                Fionn said | December 9th 2017 @ 8:11pm | ! Report

                Yeah, Nick, Lawes looks like he could be an extremely good 6, doesn’t he? I was sceptical of playing locks at blindside flank, but he seems to have the dynamism to do so. With Itoje and Launchbury playing in the second row and Lawes at 6 then you’re extremely good in the set piece and around the park.

                England (and South Africa too, if coached well, even with various political issues) will have scarily good forward packs by 2019. They definitely have the best lock depth in the world between them. Very good props and dynamic hookers. Plus some extremely good back-row players also.

                Once Ben Smith went on sabbatical I could see Cruden being at 10 and Barrett at 15.

              • December 10th 2017 @ 1:16pm
                ClarkeG said | December 10th 2017 @ 1:16pm | ! Report

                To JimmyB. I should not be surprised you see my post as proof of your point. See this is your issue and exactly my point. You pick out one or two and then arrive at your imaginative general rule for your wider chosen group.

                Because my general rule is based on a much smaller group (a few people like Jimmy) then my rule is far more likely to be true than yours.

                All you have achieved here is given my point greater emphasis. i.e people like you never tire of making these tiresome generalisations.

                It would have been better for you if you had not responded at all but thanks anyway. 🙂

              • December 10th 2017 @ 4:18pm
                JimmyB said | December 10th 2017 @ 4:18pm | ! Report

                Not sure that I’m the one crying about it Taylorman, you’re nothing if not salty.
                Calling someone out isn’t the same as preaching I’m afraid.
                It really does seem pointless to try and explain the reasons why talented players and coaches from a comparatively poor region might move to a comparatively more affluent one – you’ve confessed to not caring anyway.
                In terms of producing talent, from a purely English perspective, the last few U20 RWCs would suggest that England are capable of producing talented youngsters, but again why should you care about that?

                Clarke, as the Aussies would say, Onya champ.

              • December 10th 2017 @ 4:32pm
                Taylorman said | December 10th 2017 @ 4:32pm | ! Report

                Yep point taken, I think?

              • December 10th 2017 @ 6:52pm
                ClarkeG said | December 10th 2017 @ 6:52pm | ! Report

                And as I would say Jimmy – good on ya JimmyB – good on ya. 🙂

              • December 10th 2017 @ 8:05pm
                cuw said | December 10th 2017 @ 8:05pm | ! Report

                Fionn said |

                ” I’d agree that Retallick and Etzebeth might be the two best locks in the world. ”

                NAH – LEONE NAKARAWA is the best 2nd row in the world – he is so good he wont need a partner 😛

              • December 11th 2017 @ 2:59pm
                Fionn said | December 11th 2017 @ 2:59pm | ! Report

                Cuw, point taken! Retallick + Nakarawa would be my locking partners 🙂

          • December 7th 2017 @ 6:49am
            FunBus said | December 7th 2017 @ 6:49am | ! Report

            Well, Kirky, let’s take the period since the RWCs have been going. The ABs weren’t number 1 between 1990-1994; 1998-2003; 2008-2009. You’ve been on a great run, but the idea that the ABs not being number 1 is somehow against the laws of nature doesn’t really stand up

            • Roar Rookie

              December 8th 2017 @ 1:25am
              Kirky said | December 8th 2017 @ 1:25am | ! Report

              Yeah FunBus, I also know the figures you quote but that was a helluva’ long time ago and the status quo has been brought back to where it should be hasn’t it!

              They have been ”up there” for a long, long, time now and prior to the figures you mention they were also up there, and in those periods, they were right up the team in fronts Jacksy’! anyway, prior to getting back to their rightful possie’ mate!

            • Roar Rookie

              December 8th 2017 @ 7:53pm
              piru said | December 8th 2017 @ 7:53pm | ! Report

              the idea that the ABs not being number 1 is somehow against the laws of nature doesn’t really stand up

              I would contend otherwise.

              Note the rejoicing in Ireland after their win in Chicago, or Australia after their win in Brisbane.

              Now remember, if you will the response to the All Blacks subsequent win in Dublin over Ireland, or the previous ones against Aussie.

              It’s expected, not just by kiwis, but all fans, that the All Blacks will win any given match.

              I say to you why is this?

              No one bats an eyelid when gravity pulls an object to the ground, however get one of those street magician weirdos levitating and people lose it.

              It’s because the laws of nature have been broken, the response to an All Black loss is similar.

              #science

              • December 9th 2017 @ 12:30pm
                JimmyB said | December 9th 2017 @ 12:30pm | ! Report

                I’ll give you props for that one Piru, you made me chuckle.

              • December 9th 2017 @ 1:38pm
                Fionn said | December 9th 2017 @ 1:38pm | ! Report

                That’s this particular All Black side though, Piru. As Funbus pointed out there were long periods between 1990-2011 that the All Blacks weren’t number one.

          • Roar Guru

            December 7th 2017 @ 7:01pm
            The Neutral View From Sweden said | December 7th 2017 @ 7:01pm | ! Report

            That leaves the All Blacks, and I cannot see them ever being surpassed by any Northern International team,

            it has happened already Kiriky, but I guess you were in diapers around 2001-03.

            The AB’s is in a pretty hard place, having all their eggs in Sanzaar, but I doubt you understand that.

            • Roar Guru

              December 8th 2017 @ 6:38am
              taylorman said | December 8th 2017 @ 6:38am | ! Report

              True but when NZ were not no. 1 they were pipped at the post by a slither and never to third. All the rest have swayed betwen 2 and 5, 6,7 in some cases.
              When NZ get regularly beaten by big scores like all the rest have then Ill agree theyre not on top but when sides manage to sneak ahead by a hair its usually too much for them and they always capitulate into a writhing mess soon after, as eng 03, SA 09 did.

            • Roar Rookie

              December 8th 2017 @ 7:57pm
              piru said | December 8th 2017 @ 7:57pm | ! Report

              it has happened already Kiriky, but I guess you were in diapers around 2001-03

              ….. um

    • December 6th 2017 @ 5:45am
      richard said | December 6th 2017 @ 5:45am | ! Report

      In answer to your question- yes.And it was inevitably going to go this way.The NH ( specifically the home unions) have political and economic control of the sport.That inevitably transfers to onfield success as the best players/coaches in the world gravitate to their competitions.Throw in what I view as cynical,draconian legislation i.e the grandparent and residency rules,and you have a recipe for success.

      Look no further than the rise of Eng/Ire,and latterly Scotland.It is not by accident.Frankly,I think NH dominance is going to become the norm in the near future ( starting with the 2019 RWC).

      • Columnist

        December 6th 2017 @ 8:00am
        Nicholas Bishop said | December 6th 2017 @ 8:00am | ! Report

        Look no further than the rise of Eng/Ire,and latterly Scotland.It is not by accident.Frankly,I think NH dominance is going to become the norm in the near future ( starting with the 2019 RWC).

        Big statement Richard! Not convinced the takeover is that imminent 😀

        • December 6th 2017 @ 8:55am
          mz.ilikazi said | December 6th 2017 @ 8:55am | ! Report

          I don’t think so either. Can’t see the AB’s being dominated anytime soon…and the WB’s and Boks still produce very talented players. And the Boks in the future may find a stream of great players coming out of that huge talent pool of people of Zulu, Xhosa etc heritage.

          • Columnist

            December 6th 2017 @ 9:00am
            Nicholas Bishop said | December 6th 2017 @ 9:00am | ! Report

            I think the trick for the Bokke will to be finding that delicate point of balance between Afrikaner,Xhosa, Zulu, Cape Coloureds etc without prejudice against any…. Not for the foreseeable future I fear!

            • December 6th 2017 @ 11:08am
              Bakkies said | December 6th 2017 @ 11:08am | ! Report

              The issue isn’t the talent as it is there, it is more how to coach them in to a cohesive unit as a team.

              • Columnist

                December 6th 2017 @ 5:52pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | December 6th 2017 @ 5:52pm | ! Report

                Do they have the coaches though Bakkies? Reports that have been fed back to me suggest that the coaching standard is much less developed out there…

              • Roar Guru

                December 6th 2017 @ 7:40pm
                Harry Jones said | December 6th 2017 @ 7:40pm | ! Report

                NB

                Player stocks have never been higher; whilst coaching is in serious doldrums.

                Ackermann and Wessels and Solomon and Gold etc etc; the talent diaspora continues.

                Rassie’s return (with Nienaber) could help mentor a guy like D Davids.

                Succession planning with intellectual capital.

              • Columnist

                December 6th 2017 @ 8:11pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | December 6th 2017 @ 8:11pm | ! Report

                Losing a guy like John Ackermann after his achievements with the Lions needs serious investigation H. It may help his career as a coach but it sure doesn’t help with coaching development in South Africa.

              • Roar Guru

                December 6th 2017 @ 8:18pm
                Harry Jones said | December 6th 2017 @ 8:18pm | ! Report

                It simply came down to a choice between Coetzee and Ackermann, and SARU chose the wrong guy to try to play Ackermann-ball. Weirdly, picked the non-Ackermann!! Hahaha

              • Columnist

                December 6th 2017 @ 8:49pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | December 6th 2017 @ 8:49pm | ! Report

                And a guy with a history of producing good defence-oriented sides at the Stormers!

              • Roar Guru

                December 6th 2017 @ 9:58pm
                Harry Jones said | December 6th 2017 @ 9:58pm | ! Report

                Yes, and that’s why it’s so odd, these cricket scores against us

              • Columnist

                December 6th 2017 @ 10:02pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | December 6th 2017 @ 10:02pm | ! Report

                no continuity…

              • December 7th 2017 @ 12:23am
                FunBus said | December 7th 2017 @ 12:23am | ! Report

                ‘It simply came down to a choice between Coetzee and Ackermann, and SARU chose the wrong guy to try to play Ackermann-ball.’

                Yes, that was weird. It’s rather like Manchester United owners saying to their CEO:

                ‘right we’re looking for a coach to get the team to play the way Alex Ferguson gets his team to play at Aberdeen.’

                CEO: ‘Well, I think I can get Alex Ferguson.’

                ‘Nah, we don’t think he can pull it off.’

              • Columnist

                December 7th 2017 @ 12:57am
                Nicholas Bishop said | December 7th 2017 @ 12:57am | ! Report

                That made me chuckle, thanks FB…

              • December 7th 2017 @ 10:52am
                Bakkies said | December 7th 2017 @ 10:52am | ! Report

                I don’t think Ackermann was meeting his transformation targets at the Lions.

                They had got him involved with the SA A team against the French Barbarians.

                Ackermann mentioned when he left that he wanted to get more experience in other Rugby environments before pushing for the Springbok job.

            • December 6th 2017 @ 11:17am
              mz.ilikazi said | December 6th 2017 @ 11:17am | ! Report

              Sadly, I do agree, Nic. By future I would be looking……who knows really…..could indeed be a long wait.

              • December 6th 2017 @ 11:37am
                richard said | December 6th 2017 @ 11:37am | ! Report

                I really hope I am wrong on this.Just all the indicators point in that direction IMHO.

        • Roar Rookie

          December 8th 2017 @ 1:29am
          Kirky said | December 8th 2017 @ 1:29am | ! Report

          Nick! Two great minds think as one, as for starters I fail to see how all the money the English are chucking at the rugby scene, ! is going to make them World beaters, money doesn’t play rugby! ~ it’s all up there in the gray matter!

      • Roar Rookie

        December 6th 2017 @ 3:22pm
        Kirky said | December 6th 2017 @ 3:22pm | ! Report

        Richard! you are a Pom’ mate and you’re bound to say just what you have, but your side have as a rule been easy beats whereby the Kiwis have been at the pinnacle of the game almost since day dot! ~ Why do you opine that is going to change?

        The All Blacks are gearing up right this very moment looking towards the next World Cup, and for the life of me I can never see the English beating the All Blacks in the near future particularly not in the 2019 World Cup!

        The All Blacks have the history of greatness which is something the Poms never have had.

        Eddie the mouth can mouth off as much as he likes, but the Kiwis are far better coached and managed and play with a vastly different mindset to any othe team playing the game, furthermore you have a bunch of Kiwis in your side anyway haven’t you?

        • December 6th 2017 @ 4:35pm
          richard said | December 6th 2017 @ 4:35pm | ! Report

          Wrong.Born and bred in Auckland 4th generation kiwi.

          I am just judging on trends I am seeing in the game.I would like nothing more than to see a threepeat,but we’ll have to wait and see.

          Not blindly assuming the AB’s will always dominate is hardly indicative of not being a kiwi FFS!

        • Columnist

          December 6th 2017 @ 5:54pm
          Nicholas Bishop said | December 6th 2017 @ 5:54pm | ! Report

          Eddie the mouth can mouth off as much as he likes, but the Kiwis are far better coached and managed and play with a vastly different mindset to any othe team playing the game, furthermore you have a bunch of Kiwis in your side anyway haven’t you?

          I honestly think the AB’s will have to find something or someone on the coaching front after Wayne Smith’s departure. I don’t think Ian Foster is the answer and Shag can’t go on forever. He already looks more fed up than usual in the booth 🙂

          • December 6th 2017 @ 9:08pm
            Dontcallmeshirley said | December 6th 2017 @ 9:08pm | ! Report

            I agree to a point. I think after 2019 a new guy should come in with a new approach. Foster is not the answer.

            • Columnist

              December 6th 2017 @ 9:24pm
              Nicholas Bishop said | December 6th 2017 @ 9:24pm | ! Report

              I think so – those guys have been there for a very long time – and maybe they will want to refresh their careers with a new challenge too 🙂

              • Roar Rookie

                December 7th 2017 @ 12:14am
                Kirky said | December 7th 2017 @ 12:14am | ! Report

                Nick! apologies for harping on this subject, but the Kiwi Senior Coaching stock is very good indeed as apart from the likes of Joe Schmidt, Vern Cotter, Dave Rennie, Gatland to name but a few who are Coaching overseas, there is a plethora of extremely good Coaches all over New Zealand in all types of Competition there, like the Super Coaches, the Heartland Coaches and the Division below that and not forgetting the sevens Coaches or the Maori All Blacks Coaches, you could pick pretty much any of those guys and they’d do an International job justice!

                Some of them are very, very, good coaches but are inclined to sell themselves short a tad, but with a little push or shove the sky’s the limit.

                Guys like Joe Schmidt and a couple of others would very likely need to return home to be even in the frame, so who knows?

              • December 7th 2017 @ 5:34am
                richard said | December 7th 2017 @ 5:34am | ! Report

                Even Australians can see that Foster isn’t the answer.And yet,the NZRU in its infinite wisdom have already pre-ordained him as the next AB coach.IF Foster gets the job,it will be an unmitigated disaster.

              • December 10th 2017 @ 8:11pm
                cuw said | December 10th 2017 @ 8:11pm | ! Report

                ” IF Foster gets the job,it will be an unmitigated disaster. ”

                depends on who the team is. i have always thought that the success of NZ was having Hansen , Foster Smith and Fox working as a team.

                the coaching team dynamics play a lot in success or failure. am sure auzzy can relate t that 🙂

              • December 11th 2017 @ 6:27am
                richard said | December 11th 2017 @ 6:27am | ! Report

                Foster has worked in well,as part of a team.I will concede that.But if he gets the top job,with him pulling the strings,I think it will go tits up.

                I can only base my views on his previous record as head coach ( with the Chiefs).

              • December 11th 2017 @ 10:45am
                ClarkeG said | December 11th 2017 @ 10:45am | ! Report

                Not sure about Foster Richard. Yes if you only based your views on the Chiefs involvement then you would have reason to have doubts…gee wizz at one point he made Lauaki the captain.

                Hard to know from the outside what degree of influence he has within the camp presently but from what we can see he at least presents well publicly. I imagine he would have a better grounding now as a coach than when he left the Chiefs.

                We can be wrong about people of course. Back in 2011 I was more than happy for Henry and Hansen to move on irrespective of the WC outcome but things have kicked on reasonably nicely since under Hansen.

          • Roar Rookie

            December 6th 2017 @ 11:59pm
            Kirky said | December 6th 2017 @ 11:59pm | ! Report

            Ta’ again Nick, and for sure Smithy will be sorely missed and to be honest I haven’t got much truck for Foster either, but there’s nothing to say that he’ll be in the top slot when if ever Shag’ retires, I read somewhere reasonably recently that Shag has admitted that he doesn’t and couldn’t imagine ”life without the All Blacks”, so who knows mate he could go again! ~ And as far as looking grumpier than usual lately, hell knows he’s always looked like that! ~ Interesting

            • Columnist

              December 7th 2017 @ 12:01am
              Nicholas Bishop said | December 7th 2017 @ 12:01am | ! Report

              Do you think Joe Schmidt has a shot when he gets back home Kirky?

              • Roar Rookie

                December 7th 2017 @ 12:26am
                Kirky said | December 7th 2017 @ 12:26am | ! Report

                Nick, you know something I don’t mate as to whether Joe is going home or not, I hope he does, because I certainly think he’d have a very good shot indeed, I can just imagine a Coach like Joe with the available quality cattle there is in the ”shaky Isles”, personally I hope that he gets his name in there, as I doubt that Ian Foster is the preferred choice exactly!

                Joe Schmidt is a very, very good mentor indeed!

              • Columnist

                December 7th 2017 @ 12:56am
                Nicholas Bishop said | December 7th 2017 @ 12:56am | ! Report

                Can’t see him staying in Ireland after 2019 Kirky…

              • December 7th 2017 @ 10:56am
                Bakkies said | December 7th 2017 @ 10:56am | ! Report

                Nick he went away after the RWC to NZ and came back stating he has to place his family over any further ambitions. There is a lot of travel involved with Super Rugby or the ABs.

                Since taking on the Ireland job he has spent more time at home and his son Luke has a strong support network in Ireland.

              • Columnist

                December 7th 2017 @ 6:45pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | December 7th 2017 @ 6:45pm | ! Report

                Thanks for the addition Bakkies!

              • December 8th 2017 @ 9:32pm
                HenryHoneyBalls said | December 8th 2017 @ 9:32pm | ! Report

                I would say there is a chance Schmidt may stay in Ireland after 2019. His son has epilepsy and is in a school in Dublin that is very accommodating to his needs. Schmidt is also an Irish citizen now. His son Tim also now plays in France in the Toulouse academy.

                Its hard to say and of course there is also plenty to lure him back to NZ but he is quite rooted for now it seems.

              • December 9th 2017 @ 10:26am
                Bakkies said | December 9th 2017 @ 10:26am | ! Report

                ‘I would say there is a chance Schmidt may stay in Ireland after 2019. His son has epilepsy and is in a school in Dublin that is very accommodating to his needs. Schmidt is also an Irish citizen now. His son Tim also now plays in France in the Toulouse academy.’

                His son Luke was well looked after when he was at National School (Primary) he is probably in Secondary School now. Tim went to Terenure not sure if his brother will go to that school.

                Luke has gone to France for treatment since Joe has been in Dublin as there was a relationship there between the medical centre and Clermont. They have got his seizures per day well done. The numbers he was getting each day was frightening.

                Tim is back from Toulouse playing for Terenure in the AIL don’t know if he will make the Leinster squad. They have Gibson Park and Luke McGrath. McCarthy and Charlie Rock have also got game time. Ulster could be an option for him as Paul Marshall is no spring chicken.

                He has a daughter in NZ who is at university.

          • December 8th 2017 @ 11:17am
            taylorman said | December 8th 2017 @ 11:17am | ! Report

            Yes Nick I’m concerned about post Smith although I think these days the institution created by Henry and Hansen largely looks after 80% of itself but if losses start happening after theyre gone thats exactly where they need to look, because that’s where the other 20% comes from.

            • Roar Rookie

              December 9th 2017 @ 4:12pm
              Kirky said | December 9th 2017 @ 4:12pm | ! Report

              T/man! cuz’ ~ let’s just say that you and I know that the old saying of “blood being thicker than water” is totally relevant when it comes down to that Black Jersey and I would say that Joe Schmidt if he was offered a chance of Coaching the Best team on the Planet, he’d be in like a shot, with that quote in mind!

              What a lot of overseas rugbyites don’t seem to understand, that the All Black jersey is all powerful, it’s consuming and if needed Joe Schmidt will be right there because he’s no different to any of us Kiwis!!

      • December 7th 2017 @ 2:15am
        FunBus said | December 7th 2017 @ 2:15am | ! Report

        ‘The NH ( specifically the home unions) have political and economic control of the sport.’

        This idea that the home unions and the ‘NH’ think and act as a block is nonsense. You genuinely think that the Scots and Welsh, let alone the Irish and French are going to follow England’s lead? Each tier 1 nation has the same number of votes. As the RWC vote just showed, the NH do not vote together (although, interestingly the SH did).

        The interests of, say the English, Welsh, Scots and Irish, clash as much as they coincide.

        I note that the SH have been ‘stitched up’ again by achieving everything they asked for and having the June internationals moved entirely for the benefit of SR, with the effect that the 10 month English season now becomes an 11 month one. If the NH are supposed to dominate someone didn’t get the memo.

        • Roar Guru

          December 7th 2017 @ 6:04am
          Derm McCrum said | December 7th 2017 @ 6:04am | ! Report

          I did have to laugh at that one from Kirky, FB. The continuing assumption by a small few of SH diehards about the ‘power and control’ of the ‘Home’ Unions flies in the face of increasing evidence to the contrary. The splits over the European cup, continuing debates between English & French club power vs Union power, the RWC2023 voting, debate and voting on the residency extension, the debate and vote on the duration of the Six Nations, etc, etc.

          Whilst the example you give of the June window being moved to July for the benefit of SANZAAR is accurate, but you characterise it as having an effect of changing the English to a 11 month one. That’s an interesting take since it was the PRL who immediately decided to extend it to end of June whilst having the same start. The PRO14 on the other hand, has decided to start their season later. Equally, they’ve said that they’ll finish season earlier in a Lions tour year.

          Yep – continuing to disagree. 🙂

        • Roar Guru

          December 7th 2017 @ 7:10pm
          The Neutral View From Sweden said | December 7th 2017 @ 7:10pm | ! Report

          This idea that the home unions and the ‘NH’ think and act as a block is nonsense.

          I know, Still, even level-headed SH rugby fans go on about this. Amazing that in a small sport like rugby, so many lads have no clue how things work.

          I can’t stop; giggle every time I see a Kiwi with the heart on the sleeve accusing RFU (England’s union) of poaching players from NZ. It just goes to show that they have no understanding how the game is run in England.

          • December 8th 2017 @ 11:20am
            taylorman said | December 8th 2017 @ 11:20am | ! Report

            yeah we do swede…because we’re over there running it for them in case you haven’t noticed, a lot more than you and your giggle are at least.

            do you giggle at the fact that so called kiwis are paid millions to play and coach there when ‘they dont know how it works’?

            how does your little brain reconcile with that logic?

            • December 9th 2017 @ 12:51am
              ClarkeG said | December 9th 2017 @ 12:51am | ! Report

              With some degree of difficulty I imagine.

        • Roar Rookie

          December 9th 2017 @ 4:16pm
          Kirky said | December 9th 2017 @ 4:16pm | ! Report

          Money is folding stuff, and a rugby player is a rugby player so how is money going to make that rugby player any better than he already is?, Illogical!

      • Roar Guru

        December 7th 2017 @ 3:39am
        Derm McCrum said | December 7th 2017 @ 3:39am | ! Report

        The IRFU has political and economic control of the sport??!!

        That must be why things worked out so well for them in the RWC 2023 bidding then.

        The best players in the world gravitate to the PRO14……

        Yeeesssss. Can I have some of what you’re smoking?

        • December 7th 2017 @ 5:53am
          richard said | December 7th 2017 @ 5:53am | ! Report

          You do have control.You bloc vote to push through regulations that benefit the north – residency/grandparent rules are a classic example.SH players all go north,and in large numbers – unless it is my imagination with the numbers of saffers/kiwis/aussies in NH comps e.g Aviva Premiership.

          Unless,of course,you think NH rugby has improved off its own bat?You have pillaged the SH playing/coaching stocks that has raised the level of the game in the north.Your coaching ranks are full of by SH coaches and you augment your national sides with project players(Ireland) and residency/grandparent ( the latest poach being Brad Shields) ring-ins..

          The north is stronger because it has engineered it that way.I don’t need to have smoked anything to have figured that out.

          • December 7th 2017 @ 9:31pm
            FunBus said | December 7th 2017 @ 9:31pm | ! Report

            You’re talking nonsense. Virtually all the law changes of late have been designed to quicken the game up. If any side benefits from that it’s NZ.
            England were one of the drivers of pushing for a change to 5 year residency, the Scots, for example are against it, the NH simply do not vote as a block no matter how much you’d love it to be so.

            On the technical point, Shields has two English parents and a British passport – however, he hasn’t been selected for anything yet. As I mentioned elsewhere the last test two weeks ago every one of the England starting XV were born in England, which is something the ABs will struggle to achieve for a while given that a number of their ‘scholarship’ players from the islands are coming through. The only player who qualifies on residency is Hughes and he isn’t a starter. The Vunipolas, Hartley etc either arrived as kids and/or have English parenthood. No-one in the current England squad qualifies on ‘grandparent’. We can argue whether Shields is more English than Noholo and Fifita are Kiiwi, but the basic point is you don’t know what you’re talking about.

            • December 8th 2017 @ 4:54am
              richard said | December 8th 2017 @ 4:54am | ! Report

              Yes,I do.

              England may have pushed for an extension of the residency rules,but only because it doesn’t affect them.The NZ team is made up of essentially NZers and always has been.It is the uk press,who have constantly pushed the line of AB poaching.Anyone with a brown skin was a poach,incl. a large number of maori players.As others have pointed out,we are a PI nation,and the AB’s reflect that.

              The parenthood thing is a croc,you can spin it anyway you like they are poaches.The Vunipolas are not English,nor is Hartley/Shields – they were born in NZ.That makes them first and foremost kiwis , ergo they were poached.Using a BS grandparent rule,which was implemented by you poms to legalise your poachind still makes it what it is – a poach.

              But the problem can be easily solved – rescind both the residency/grandparent rules.But we know that won’t happen.And while you are at it,coaches also shouldn’t be allowed to coach other international teams.Do all this,and see where NH rugby is at.

              Your game is only strong because you poach our resources,and have used that to bring the NH game up.That is reality!

              • December 8th 2017 @ 10:36am
                Goatee said | December 8th 2017 @ 10:36am | ! Report

                ‘The Vunipolas are not English,nor is Hartley/Shields – they were born in NZ.That makes them first and foremost kiwis , ergo they were poached.’

                And richard… a reliable source told me that you were born in MacDonald’s, ergo, you are a hamburger (evidently).

                ‘And while you are at it,coaches also shouldn’t be allowed to coach other international teams. Do all this,and see where NH rugby is at.’

                Wow! this comment is obviously motivated by the guaranteed success (and silverware) that invariably follows when RWC winning coaches of the calibre of Henry and Hansen are placed at the helm of international teams in the NH. Seemingly, these two forgot to read the script…

                Furthermore, there are some who will argue (on the basis of their record in the NH) the teams that they coached learned very little, particularly with regard to what it takes to create and sustain a winning culture. Some might even suggest that Hansen and Henry themselves, learned little of consequence, or gained zero insight, with regard to their own development as coaches. But personally, I wouldn’t be so uncharitable, or narrow minded…

              • December 8th 2017 @ 2:40pm
                richard said | December 8th 2017 @ 2:40pm | ! Report

                Certainly,in the case of Henry,he had 20-30 years coaching at secondary school level before he ever went to Wales.He was already recognised as an outstanding coach before he went there.Did he learn anything in Wales.I am sure he did,but this belief that because he went to Wales,he suddenly became a complete coach is bollocks.

                Henry was already world class when he left having coached the Auckland NPC sides and SR team the Blues to titles.Wales didn’t make him one.

                As to whether Henry was successful,well he had Wales on a 10 or 11 match winning streak at one stage,incl. a first ever win over SA for Wales,so he was obviously doing something right.The fact he couldn’t maintain it might have more to do with the structures Wales had in place for player development.I believe both Henry/Hansen tried to change it,but were stymied.It was one of the reasons Henry walked away.He had considerable success considering what he was dealing with.

                My comment re SH coaches in the north is to do with the number of southern coaches who have gone there and improved the game.Ireland being a classic example.

              • Columnist

                December 8th 2017 @ 7:14pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | December 8th 2017 @ 7:14pm | ! Report

                Graham always had world-class ability as a coach, but wasn’t one when he went to the UK Richard. After he came to back NZ in 2002 he changed his coaching personality completely (from ‘dictator’ to ‘co-owner’) and that’s why he had such lasting success with the AB’s – that was down to the experience he had in Europe.

              • December 9th 2017 @ 3:42am
                Goatee said | December 9th 2017 @ 3:42am | ! Report

                @ richard – ‘Henry was already a world class coach when he left NZ having coached the Auckland NPC sides and SR team the Blues to titles.’

                Sorry, but your claim here is nonsense.

                The label of ‘world class’ (in this context) is neither earned or achieved by plying one’s trade solely, at club or provincial level. It’s earned at ‘elite level’, where a nation’s best, compete against the best of another nation (regardless of how ‘good’ you believe your provincial sides are!).

                As you have pointed out, he did coach Wales to 10 straight victories but thereafter, they then lost their next four games. Furthermore, they never won a Grand Slam or even a 6N title with him in charge. Hansen’s record with Wales (of which you remain understandably silent) was largely, underwhelming. Does this make them bad coaches? No. History has proven otherwise. But their record in the NH does not make them ‘great’ either, or support the narrative that NH ‘gains’ since 2015 are largely driven by the ‘superior’ talent and know how, from the SH.

                ‘Did Henry learn anything in Wales.I am sure he did, but this belief that because he went to Wales, he suddenly became a complete coach is bollocks.’

                N. Bishop has already alluded to Henry’s world class potential, as a coach, when he left NZ for the NH. Furthermore, NB’s knowledge of – and previous working relationship with GH, should not to be dismissed lightly, if at all. If however, any doubt still remains in your own mind as to the contribution made by his experience in the NH and the transformation it had upon him as a coach, then consider the following, from ‘the horses mouth.’

                “I think everybody who is successful has some disasters along the way before they triumph.To go through those disasters if you like, and the Welsh experience and the Lions experience, I look back on them as the most valuable time I had in coaching…
                Because you learn so much about yourself and what you have to do to stay in the game, to stay in coaching, to be successful and you have to change. I changed from a dictatorial, with some consensus – from time to time, to a consensus coach. So it went from a ‘me and them’ environment to an ‘us’ environment.”

                http://www.walesonline.co.uk/sport/rugby/rugby-news/i-out-welsh-rugby-before-11147873

                Again, one might conclude from his statement, that his European experience was crucial to his development into a world class coach. Which suggests, that it’s time for you, richard (and others from your neck of the woods – who share your perspective) to remove the blinkers, or at very least, open the ‘other’ eye, too.

              • December 9th 2017 @ 7:18am
                richard said | December 9th 2017 @ 7:18am | ! Report

                If you are both correct – and you present compelling arguments – explain this to me.Using your rationale,you need that overseas experience to develop as a coach or into a great coach,where does that leave coaches before the pro era who I would also rate as outstanding,but who to my knowledge never coached overseas i.e Fred Allen/RodMcQueen.?

                Genuine question,not trolling.

              • December 9th 2017 @ 10:22am
                Goatee said | December 9th 2017 @ 10:22am | ! Report

                @ richard – ‘Using your rationale,you need that overseas experience to develop as a coach or into a great coach…’

                Personally, it’s not what I said and ultimately, it’s not what I believe.

                Undoubtedly, there is much to gain by coaching in both hemispheres’ if (and it’s a big ‘if’) you are willing and able to absorb the different nuances that arise and are in possession of sufficient intelligence, or ‘rugby smarts’ to apply the lessons learned, both on the training field and in the test match arena. For example, in this regard (and on current evidence) EJ scores A+ while MC might receive a C- ?

                However, having said this, alongside Fred Allen and Rod McQueen, from the SH, you could also add Carwyn James and Ian McGeechan from the North, who also, to my knowledge, never coached overseas either but were both outstanding coaches.

                So let us cut to the chase here… a significant part of this discussion or debate arose from the presumption on your part (and others who share your perspective) that the progress made by NH nations, since 2015, is ultimately due to the arrival of ‘superior’ coaches, who learned their trade in the SH. As already argued, this line of reasoning is both mistaken and discredited, by the fairly modest achievements of Henry and particularly Hansen, during their time here, in the NH.

              • December 9th 2017 @ 11:54am
                Taylorman said | December 9th 2017 @ 11:54am | ! Report

                Tend to agree with Nicks comments re Henry’s ‘mood’ changes in that he was very much the do as I say Headmaster type of coach in the early school…Grammar and Kelston boys and Auckland then Blues sides where I could swear I dont think he either smiled or went without that ‘how dumb are all of you’ look the entire time.

                Wales may have helped mellow his manner and including people like Smith certainly helped.

                One test story I recall is how a conversation with Tana Umaga changed his approach to handing over ownership of the team performance to the team.

                All week pre test Henry during training would gradually get the team to own their own performances right up to the game time then in the final few minutes in the changing room would dictate to the players about what they needed to do etc etc as he did in his Headmaster days.

                I believe they lost that one and when Tana talked with Henry he asked Henry about the pre match words…Who were those words for? The team…or you? You spend all week handing the responsibility to the players then a minute before they go on take it all off them.

                So I think Nicks right about the change, I just dont think it was the only factor. I think the pro scene was changing…people expected more of professionals and as earners players have responsibilities built in to their job descriptions. Henry, as well as other coaches, were still finding their way in the pro world and players needed to be treated more and more as employees who are there to contribute positively to the environment they work in.

                Times were changing so i dont believe Wales itself changed Henry, but it was certainly part of it, and he was hardly the finished priduct on return. Timing was also a big part of it and I believe he would have transitioned in the same way had he stayed here, its just whether that would have happened faster or not.

              • December 9th 2017 @ 6:03pm
                FunBus said | December 9th 2017 @ 6:03pm | ! Report

                I think the Lions tour to Australia was the thing that changed Henry most. As he admits himself, it wasn’t his finest hour as a coach.

              • December 10th 2017 @ 1:44am
                Taylorman said | December 10th 2017 @ 1:44am | ! Report

                Lions tour coaches rarely are.

    • Roar Guru

      December 6th 2017 @ 5:56am
      Harry Jones said | December 6th 2017 @ 5:56am | ! Report

      NB

      Poor display by the <400-cap Boklings, with deteriorating breakdown acumen in the 2 seasons since Meyer-Gray had almost all players well-drilled on how to approach the tackle-point, down to body position and signal.

      The new rules don't seem to have made their way to Coetzee's noggin.

      Didn't help that SA couldn't handle basic barrage of garryowens under the roof, on a dry track.

      Louw-Vermeulen probably would’ve fared better than Kolisi-du Preez, but that's no excuse. Coetzee has continued to pick his namesake at 15 long after proven sub-Test standard, and worthy options aplenty in Europe (Lambie, Ludik, le Roux) or in the squad (Gelant AT his ACTUAL position? Leyds a run at 15?)

      Kids can’t win on tour or in Cups. JP Pietersen, Willie Le Roux, Frans Steyn, and Ruan Combrinck would’ve been a tough group for the Welsh to roll.

      But in general, the cluelessness of the Coetzee regime, the open secret that he was a goner, and the coaches heading for the exits (Venter, Van Graan, Proudfoot) combined for an insipid display.

      Coetzee's only plan seemed to be PLAY FRANCE MORE (4W 0L).

      Time to move on. Rassie has the horses and just enough time to make the Boks at least a nuisance at RWC 2019.

      • December 6th 2017 @ 6:19am
        mz.ilikazi said | December 6th 2017 @ 6:19am | ! Report

        “and worthy options aplenty in Europe (Lambie, Ludik, le Roux) ” Indeed Harry, and those are only the FB options…and you mention some of the others. And then there are so many more. Overseas players MUST be picked for RWC 2019 !

        Jeez, what a difficult situation the Boks find themselves in, and how sad for the nation and world rugby. I think back to the destruction of Zimbabwe cricket…..just pray the Boks don’t suffer a similar fate.

        • Columnist

          December 6th 2017 @ 6:35am
          Nicholas Bishop said | December 6th 2017 @ 6:35am | ! Report

          ..or they need to use the Pro 14 sides as a European base for overseas Springboks and encourage as many of them to land there as poss!

          • Roar Guru

            December 6th 2017 @ 7:46pm
            Harry Jones said | December 6th 2017 @ 7:46pm | ! Report

            We need a Euro-Bok squad coached by Jake White. Could play the EOYT from this 45-man group. Relatively easy to coordinate. Would give Boks a good chance at Grand Slams.

            Willie, Lambie, JP Pietersen, Frans Steyn, Jordaan, Ludik, Faf, Hougaard, Groom, Thor, Louw, J du Plessis, Bismarck, Koch, Mostert, Marcell Coetzee, Rhodes, Armand, Willemse, Oosthuizen, M van der Merwe; then throw in a few domestic overlaps for leadership (Etzebeth, Whiteley, Kolisi, Kitshoff, and Beast) … you have a killer squad.

            • Columnist

              December 6th 2017 @ 8:09pm
              Nicholas Bishop said | December 6th 2017 @ 8:09pm | ! Report

              Don Armand has committed to England Harry – he played for the Saxons in South Africa last year!

              • Roar Guru

                December 6th 2017 @ 8:14pm
                Harry Jones said | December 6th 2017 @ 8:14pm | ! Report

                Can we get him back on some sort of technicality? Maybe … for each F-word uttered by Eddie Jones, we get a Saffa back?

              • December 6th 2017 @ 9:14pm
                DavSA said | December 6th 2017 @ 9:14pm | ! Report

                Ha Ha ! We will have em all back in less than 30 days.

              • December 6th 2017 @ 11:29pm
                Samuel Honywill said | December 6th 2017 @ 11:29pm | ! Report

                More than just the Saxons – he was capped fully on the tour to Argentina (although he only got a couple of minutes at the end of the first Test).

              • Roar Guru

                December 7th 2017 @ 1:18am
                Harry Jones said | December 7th 2017 @ 1:18am | ! Report

                Oh

                Well

                Dammit

        • December 6th 2017 @ 11:49am
          richard said | December 6th 2017 @ 11:49am | ! Report

          Agree on this.The current demise of SB rugby is bad for its SAANZAR partners,and the game as a whole.

      • Columnist

        December 6th 2017 @ 6:34am
        Nicholas Bishop said | December 6th 2017 @ 6:34am | ! Report

        Morning Harry.

        Yes the breakdown has become an area of deterioration and worse, deterioration of breakdown intelligence on the evidence of the Wales game. In the Meyer/Gray era it was an area of enormous strength for the Bokke – guys like Vermeulen, Louw, Bismarck and Habana were very strong over the ball, and the blokes that weren’t originally (like Marcell Coetzee) were quickly taught how to be effective.

        Malcolm Marx is a force of nature over the tackle ball, but the analysis of where and when to attack the breakdown was not accurate.

        Overall, the Coetzee regime has helped show just how good a coach Heyneke Meyer really was, in hindsight.

        Rassie Erasmus will have his work cut out to match his record, in fact I would be surprised if he gets anywhere near a 70% win rate from now until the WC.

        • Roar Guru

          December 6th 2017 @ 7:57pm
          Harry Jones said | December 6th 2017 @ 7:57pm | ! Report

          NB

          All due respect to Wales et al, but Rassie can muster a group of forwards only England can match for depth, and only Ireland for starter quality:

          Kitshoff, Beast, Oosthuizen, Malherbe, W Louw, Bismarck, Marx, Etzebeth, PSDT, Lood, Mostert, F Louw, Vermeulen, Jaco Kriel, Kolisi, Whiteley, M Coetzee, and Jean-Luc du Preez.

          When coached smartly, that group will give any team, even the All Blacks, a hellacious match. In Cape Town, a properly motivated Bok pack knocked the ABs back repeatedly. Only Dumb Dumb de Allende’s brain-freeze saved them.

          The backline is a different story, but I think Coach Coetzee stuck too long with Coetzee, Rhule, Skosan, Kriel, Cronje, and Jantjies. He picked the wrong Lions! (Vorster, Rohan, Combrinck, and Faf are more dynamic).

          I think Rassie will have a different spine in the back: Gelant or Willemse at 15, Pollard at 10 with understudy Rob du Preez, and Vermaak or Paige at 9. And I think Bosch, Am, Leyds, Mapimpi, Nkosi, Ruhan Nel, Frans Steyn, Lambie, and Senatla could all feature.

          That would be a fast and skillful Bok team.

          • Columnist

            December 6th 2017 @ 8:03pm
            Nicholas Bishop said | December 6th 2017 @ 8:03pm | ! Report

            Problem with the forwards Harry is that only two of those you mention is black (Kolisi & Beast)! Isn’t that the area they’re trying to apply quotas to most intensely?

            Backs need wholesale reconstruction from point zero. SA haven’t field any effective pair of halves or a decent back three in 2017.

            But from what you’ve said, it is pretty clear that political interference is a major issue in selection.

            • Roar Guru

              December 6th 2017 @ 8:12pm
              Harry Jones said | December 6th 2017 @ 8:12pm | ! Report

              Yes, Bish, you are right. You are almost always right.

              But
              But
              But

              Remember that ANC and SARU are flexible and sloppy and excusing about their corruption …

              If Boks win 10, 11 tests without 7-8 starters being black, look for a Rassie Exception, with a new target (50% in 2020!!!) hahaha

            • Roar Guru

              December 6th 2017 @ 8:20pm
              Harry Jones said | December 6th 2017 @ 8:20pm | ! Report

              You are almost always right.

              And here you are, being right again.

              My other post (about not taking ANC’s quota too literally, if we start to win, they’ll relax it) was moderated.

              • Columnist

                December 6th 2017 @ 8:45pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | December 6th 2017 @ 8:45pm | ! Report

                Ahh okay – sensitive stuff….

              • Roar Guru

                December 7th 2017 @ 3:34am
                Carlos the Argie said | December 7th 2017 @ 3:34am | ! Report

                Harry,
                It is very dangerous to contradict Bush. You may get close to winning a very small point but overall we just have to accept his whatever you want to call it.

              • Columnist

                December 7th 2017 @ 4:55am
                Nicholas Bishop said | December 7th 2017 @ 4:55am | ! Report

                Yes, very, very dangerous. Who knows what might happen 🙂

      • Roar Guru

        December 6th 2017 @ 8:59am
        Machooka said | December 6th 2017 @ 8:59am | ! Report

        Coetzee;

        The time has come.
        To say fair’s fair.
        To pay the rent.
        To pay our share.

        The time has come.
        A fact’s a fact.
        It belongs to them.
        Let’s give it back!

        • Columnist

          December 6th 2017 @ 9:06am
          Nicholas Bishop said | December 6th 2017 @ 9:06am | ! Report

          Nothing like burning the midnight oil Chook….

          • Roar Guru

            December 6th 2017 @ 9:09am
            Machooka said | December 6th 2017 @ 9:09am | ! Report

            Nothing like a tall bald headed guy with strong opinions either! 🙂

            • Columnist

              December 6th 2017 @ 9:11am
              Nicholas Bishop said | December 6th 2017 @ 9:11am | ! Report

              That brings it down to earth with a bump!

          • Roar Guru

            December 6th 2017 @ 10:41am
            Carlos the Argie said | December 6th 2017 @ 10:41am | ! Report

            No burning beds?

      • Roar Pro

        December 6th 2017 @ 1:11pm
        Jonty Shonty said | December 6th 2017 @ 1:11pm | ! Report

        Agree with all this Harry, and thanks for the article Nick. Love your analysis on the Boks. I’m often left scratching my head at what went wrong and they certainly help clear some things up.

        I strongly believe SA has the players, despite the exodus to Europe. We just lack a level of professionalism and good coaching at all levels. This has to be addressed. People don’t learn to pass left or catch a high ball when they’re in the Bok set up. These basics are learnt at a much younger age. And just look at how many South Africans go overseas and become world class in European clubs once involved in their structures.

        Tactical limitations aside, Toetie hasn’t helped his case by discarding experienced players that could have added real value to an inexpereinced bok squad. For all him limitations, he could have been seen as the coach to guide the Boks into a new era of transformation, especially with time until the next world cup. Instead, he’s picked out of form or mediorce white players in positions where coloured players are playing well. I’m thinking Gelant, Am, Nkosi, Mapimpi, Notshe, Carr, even Paige has looked sharp and deserved a run in the team.

        I read a lot of comments with people blaming ‘quota selections’ for the Boks poor performances. Transformation isn’t the issue, our 7’s team is testament to that. It’s players being given the opportunity and coached in the right way.

        As a footnote, I hear a lot about Pollard being the saviour for the no 10 jersey. If he is, I’ve never seen a number ten with such a limited skill set. His passing, kicking out of hand, line speed and reading of the game are all teriible. He’s a physical player, nothing more.

        • Columnist

          December 6th 2017 @ 5:58pm
          Nicholas Bishop said | December 6th 2017 @ 5:58pm | ! Report

          I’m not sure Pollard is the answer either Jonty. I’d have liked to see Johan Goosen given an extended run at 10 (if he’s still paying rugby that is), or else Bosch or Willemse brought on behind someone like Pat Lambie.

          Selection is pretty poor across the board, and when they pick European-based players or black/coloured players they don’t always go for the right ones!

        • Roar Guru

          December 6th 2017 @ 8:00pm
          Harry Jones said | December 6th 2017 @ 8:00pm | ! Report

          Nizaam Carr is setting U.K. rugby on fire!

          Great player and top man.

          • Columnist

            December 6th 2017 @ 8:07pm
            Nicholas Bishop said | December 6th 2017 @ 8:07pm | ! Report

            http://www.coventrytelegraph.net/sport/rugby/wasps-boss-dai-young-nizaam-13994327

            He’s definitely appreciated in Coventry H…. but doesn’t that bring us closer to the heart of the issue in this article also? He seems to be valued more highly in a foreign country than he is at Western Province!

            • Roar Guru

              December 6th 2017 @ 8:22pm
              Harry Jones said | December 6th 2017 @ 8:22pm | ! Report

              Definitely. Dunno why Coetzee took Cassiem (proven sub-test standard and not an 8) and not Carr (played really well in the Bok jersey, and in red-hot form in 2017). Made no sense.

        • Roar Guru

          December 6th 2017 @ 8:03pm
          Harry Jones said | December 6th 2017 @ 8:03pm | ! Report

          After RWC 2019, I think Willemse will be the Bok 10.

          Problem for Rassie right now is only Pollard is ready for a big-big game vs ABs/Ireland …

    • December 6th 2017 @ 6:07am
      mz.ilikazi said | December 6th 2017 @ 6:07am | ! Report

      Most interesting article, Nic. Thanks. I would comment that a very important upside of the improvement we are seeing from the North is the wonderful rugby that is being played. Simply outstanding.

      My feeling at the moment is that out of the Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England group, Ireland may well emerge from the Six Nations as the top team. Some real depth is certainly emerging there now, and they have a very strong five comprising the backrow and the half back/flyhalf…..and they have good reserves there, IMO.

      Scotland are really building a very strong base, and play wonderful rugby. Wales are probably just beginning what I hope will be a rapid upward trend towards a peak in 2019 where they will be a team to be really feared.

      Finally, England, I feel they could be the most likely to regress and disappoint. I have not yet watched all their games, but should they revert to type, and concentrate on the grinding forward game, backed by kicking as a major option, I can see them being outplayed by the more innovative and flair orientated teams around them.

      The six Nations should be very good this incoming year.

      • Columnist

        December 6th 2017 @ 6:39am
        Nicholas Bishop said | December 6th 2017 @ 6:39am | ! Report

        The advantage England have is Ireland (and Wales) at Twickenham this season MZ – they should cope with France and Italy away so it could come down to the game against Scotland at Murrayfield. The Scots will be champing at the bit for that one after last year’s rout in London!

        But any one out of Ireland, Scotland or England could win the whole shebang 🙂

        • December 6th 2017 @ 8:07am
          David said | December 6th 2017 @ 8:07am | ! Report

          Fortunately, Scotland have Ireland away. Assuming Ireland, England and Scotland are all unbeaten at home in the first four rounds, and only lose to each other away, that leaves Scotland with Italy away in the final round (easy peasy) while England host Ireland, who (with this logic) have the opportunity to either win a Grand Slam or lose it all to Scotland or England on points difference.

          I know I’m excited 😀

          • Columnist

            December 6th 2017 @ 8:11am
            Nicholas Bishop said | December 6th 2017 @ 8:11am | ! Report

            It is a very exciting prospect David – although I can see one or two upsets occurring which may mean those three sides do not reach the last round at the top. Wales will have a large say in who wins the title, even if they are very unlikely to win it themselves…

            • December 6th 2017 @ 8:24am
              David said | December 6th 2017 @ 8:24am | ! Report

              Pesky Welshies are always wanting to say their bit- the very first match, Wales vs Scotland, might be the first of the spanners they’ll want to throw in the works. And Ireland’s recent record against them isn’t brilliant- one win in their last four games. As long as they don’t triumph at Twickenham!

              I’m just as worried about France to be honest. The Stade de France is not a friendly 6 Nations venue, and as we’re travelling there right after a visit to Murrayfield I’m not having happy thoughts about what state we could be in come round 5.

              • Columnist

                December 6th 2017 @ 8:27am
                Nicholas Bishop said | December 6th 2017 @ 8:27am | ! Report

                Indeed David – Wales have learned how to play the Irish over the past few years and will be hard for them again.Scotland-England could well be one of the critical matches of the 6N…

        • December 6th 2017 @ 8:42am
          mz.ilikazi said | December 6th 2017 @ 8:42am | ! Report

          Yes Nic, am well aware that Ireland have to go to Twickenham, but Ireland have had wins there in the 2000’s….three times out of ten starts, one being a n RWC warmup. Not a very impressive statistic at first sight, but one that gives me hope with the given the team Ireland are building post the O’Driscoll/O’Callaghan era.

          With both teams hopefully at full strength….a big ask given players workloads……it should be an absorbing contest.

          • Columnist

            December 6th 2017 @ 8:48am
            Nicholas Bishop said | December 6th 2017 @ 8:48am | ! Report

            Yes I anticipate a very close one between those two at Twickenham MZ 🙂

      • December 7th 2017 @ 8:03am
        Neil Back said | December 7th 2017 @ 8:03am | ! Report

        Mate, seriously, you are off your noggin. I hate it when part-time casual watchers of NH rugby spout off like this. England hasn’t played to the ‘type’ you suggest for over a decade now. Wake up buddy.

        • December 7th 2017 @ 9:33am
          David said | December 7th 2017 @ 9:33am | ! Report

          Pretty shocking observation really when the only other 6N team showing a lot of “flair” is Scotland. Ireland don’t play like that, Wales are coached to not play like that, and France and Italy have shown they can’t play like that.

          England- especially with the Ford-Farrell combo- thrive on open play

          • December 7th 2017 @ 11:24am
            Neil Back said | December 7th 2017 @ 11:24am | ! Report

            Really? So you’ve seen Scotland chance their hand against 14 end of tour Wallabies and now you’re an expert on the state of NH rugby. Yep, about par for many posters in this forum.

            Take a look at some of the observations of people you might more kindly consider neutral and knowledgeable – for example the author of this thread who has often repeated these sentiments. There’s one here from Nick Dec 6th @ 10.33am in response to Hoy Dec 6th 10.29am, without trying too hard.

            While we’re at it, outside of NZ, where else in world rugby are you seeing bags of successful flair? Wallabies? SA? Argentina?

            • December 8th 2017 @ 10:08am
              David said | December 8th 2017 @ 10:08am | ! Report

              Right, Neil, a few things:

              1) I’m agreeing with you, so if you’d like to properly read my comment, that’d be fantastic. The “pretty shocking observation” I was referring to was mz.ilikazi’s.

              2) I’m English, live in England, and have done all my life, so I consider myself to know considerably more than a lot of the posters on here who as you correctly say, no next to nothing about the state of Northern Hemisphere rugby, and come floundering on about England reverting to type and somehow thinking we’re not much to worry about half the time.

              And 3), harsh on Scotland trying to say the only time they’ve played exciting rugby was against Australia this autumn. They’ve been doing it since Verne Cotter came in.

              • December 8th 2017 @ 11:33pm
                Neil Back said | December 8th 2017 @ 11:33pm | ! Report

                David, my apologies. I completely misread your comment.

                Maybe harsh on Scotland but if you take 2017 as a whole, it’s a mixed bag. As an England follower, you learn to spot them! The next 6N will be a telling one. Cannot wait.

            • December 9th 2017 @ 9:37am
              David said | December 9th 2017 @ 9:37am | ! Report

              Thank you Neil, apology accepted. I know Scotland have had ups and downs this year- losing to Fiji and us at Twickers the main ones- but think I’m exciting to see if they progress in the 6N. Looking forward to it also- think we’re still in the best position though! 🙂

    • December 6th 2017 @ 6:47am
      Bluesfan said | December 6th 2017 @ 6:47am | ! Report

      Well if a business is Asset stripped, then their will be a resulting decline in ability to replicate existing quality a service etc – and in a rugby context that is what the Nth Hemisphere has done.

      Something to consider – what would the state of European rugby be in – if someone came and hired 250 professional players from the UK and another 250 players out of France and then moved them down to Oz, SA and NZ?

      So it’s no surprise that Europe is on the rise – they have in large respects gutted Sth Hemisphere rugby – with SA being the most obvious example and then when where necessary utilized Sth Hemisphere players to fill gaps in their playing roster – with the most recent example being H.Parkes for Wales – but you could also add B.Aki, WP Nel, B.Teo etc.

      So is European Rugby on the rise or is it that Sth Hemisphere rugby is being mined for their playing resources and it’s now starting to really reflect in the results between the competing nations?

      • Columnist

        December 6th 2017 @ 8:05am
        Nicholas Bishop said | December 6th 2017 @ 8:05am | ! Report

        In a way it’s just a reflection of economics in a professional game. Most players goes where the money is, and most of it is up North. It was the same in the 1970s and 1980s in Wales when union was still amateur but League was pro. Players moved North and it was hard for Wales to build teams – as soon as rugby turned pro the tide reversed and most of the Leaguies came back.

        But the diff this season is that teams like Scotland are beginning to do it with home-based talent. There was no WP Nel and no Josh Strauss in the side that beat Australia for example, and to the best of my knowledge none of their players in that game qualified by residency.

        • December 6th 2017 @ 8:32am
          Bluesfan said | December 6th 2017 @ 8:32am | ! Report

          Sean Maitland – ex Crusaders/Maori AB’s
          Bryon McGuigan – ex SA – Borders
          Cornell Du Preez – ex SA U20
          Phil Burleigh – ex Highlander

          So even though missing J.Hardie, WP Neil and Josh Strauss – out of their squad of 23 – 18% are from the Sth Hemisphere – and if you produced the other three names – that figure actually moves to 30%.

          So I guess if you can’t produce the talent – you buy it in. Nothing wrong with that – just simple economics and good on the players as they are maximizing their income over a very short career.

          However when people talk about the Nth moving forward, well call me cynical but from this distant view that’s being built on:

          1. Nth’s Economic might by asset stripping the Sth Hemisphere player base.
          2. Nth Hemisphere rugby utilizing existing residency regulations/Grandfather rules – but noting that large amount of their players have zero relationship to the country they are representing.
          3. Purchasing Sth Hemisphere IP e.g. Joe Schmidt etc – apart from Townsend, where are the Joe Schmidts/Eddie Jones in European Rugby?

          • Columnist

            December 6th 2017 @ 10:27am
            Nicholas Bishop said | December 6th 2017 @ 10:27am | ! Report

            Du Preez I’ll give you, but all of Maitland, McGuigan and Burleigh have genuine Scottish qualifications through grandparents or better – and McGuigan was playing for the Scottish sevens side as far back as 2011!

            None of them can be considered central to the Scotland renaissance either, and except for Maitland none of them are first choices with everyone fit.

            Hardly asset-stripping is it? – and incidentally I’d be very careful about asserting that a player has ‘zero relationship’ to the country he has chosen to represent if you don’t know that to be a fact.

            In answer to your last question, I’d say Andy Farrell is pretty clearly the best defence coach in the world right now, and Stuart Lancaster is right up there with Townsend on the other side of the ball. Steve Borthwick as a lineout coach, Richie Gray as a breakdown coach (even though he was with the Boks!) just off the tope of my head. Plenty of rugby intellect in that lot!

            • December 6th 2017 @ 10:46am
              David said | December 6th 2017 @ 10:46am | ! Report

              Add Hardie, Strauss and Nel and you’d find Hardie and Strauss aren’t first choice either, not with Ryan Wilson’s form, and Hamish Watson should’ve been the British and Irish Lions openside imo, never mind Scotland.

              • December 6th 2017 @ 11:55am
                richard said | December 6th 2017 @ 11:55am | ! Report

                Bluesfan,you and me think alike.Agree 100%.

            • December 6th 2017 @ 11:17am
              Bluesfan said | December 6th 2017 @ 11:17am | ! Report

              You defend them but all the players were born in either SA or NZ and more importantly their rugby heritage e.g. where they learnt to play the game, is purely Sth Hemisphere – or is not playing for the NZ Maori AB’s or the SA U20 side enough of a qualification.

              Let’s be honest what do you think would have happened if prior to Maitland (or J.Hardie or Brendan Laney etc etc) picking up an overseas contract – the AB’s had come calling and indicated he was about to be selected?

              How you can defend a situation where up to 30% of a team are purely imports is interesting to say the least. McGuigan – well all I can say is that I saw an interview with him post the Oz game and his SA accent was so thick it was hilarious.

              And yes it is absoutely asset striping – 30% is not a small number, and I just realized that my numbers are incorrect I should have also included Ben Toolis – out of Queensland – apologies so out of a squad of 23 in their last game – 21% were schooled out of the Sth Hemisphere.

              As for coaches – Lancaster – Well he failed at the RWC so not to sure about that and the other are not even head coaches – how about we consider the following parties impacting Nth Hemisphere rugby:

              Schmidt
              Blackadder
              Rennie
              Gatland
              Jones
              V.Cotter
              Scott Johnson
              Greg Feek

              That the Nth Hemisphere is on the rise, is obvious – but the reality is that it’s being driven in large by the ability of Nth Hemisphere unions to buy Sth Hemisphere IP (Schmidt/Jones etc) and where weaknesses are identified in squads, the ability to find suitable players who they can select via residency or Grandparent rule.

              • December 6th 2017 @ 11:54am
                Bluesfan said | December 6th 2017 @ 11:54am | ! Report

                As I don’t want to be unfair to the Scot’s, considering my heritage – let’s also look at the English.

                What money the next English Blindside Player – no not Chris Robshaw – no I would put money at the TAB that a certain Mr Brad Shields, fresh from a Hurricanes Super Season will be on the field for England for the 2018/19 Six Nations campaign.

              • Columnist

                December 6th 2017 @ 7:25pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | December 6th 2017 @ 7:25pm | ! Report

                I don’t see Shileds uprooting Robshaw, or Itoje/Lawes playing as a 6 either from the starting XV BF.

              • December 6th 2017 @ 2:57pm
                Perthstayer said | December 6th 2017 @ 2:57pm | ! Report

                BF

                A team with 82% of its players not stripped out of the SH stuffed the No.2 ranked team in the world.

              • Columnist

                December 6th 2017 @ 6:10pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | December 6th 2017 @ 6:10pm | ! Report

                Let’s be honest what do you think would have happened if prior to Maitland (or J.Hardie or Brendan Laney etc etc) picking up an overseas contract – the AB’s had come calling and indicated he was about to be selected?

                Sure they prob would have opted for the ABs. For that matter, what about Inga Tuigamala, the Bachop brothers, Frank Bunce and Alama Ieremia hopping between New Zealand and Samoa in an earlier generation? Did they have zero relationship to New Zealand when they were playing for Samoa – and vice versa? Of course not. They were prob happy to play international rugby for both, and I would guess that is the case with Maitland, who is fully entitled to play for Scotland by parentage.

                Most of the others you mention have had negligible impact on the Scotland squad. Even WP Nel (who is a great player) has been injured for most of the last year, and the only ‘project players’ designed to qualify by residency are Nel, Strauss and du Preez. That’s it. Everyone else can be accounted for by the far greater mobility factor in the pro game, from which New Zealand has also benefited.

                So it’s factor but hardly the main driving force in the improvement of England, Scotland or Ireland. I you selected the best Scotland side with everyone fit and available, there would be only one project player in it and that would be Nel (and even he could be covered by Zander Fagerson).

              • December 6th 2017 @ 11:08pm
                FunBus said | December 6th 2017 @ 11:08pm | ! Report

                ‘What money the next English Blindside Player – no not Chris Robshaw – no I would put money at the TAB that a certain Mr Brad Shields,’

                Well, Brad Shields parents are both English, and he has a British passport. You could make the case that he’s a good deal more ‘English’ than Noholo or Fafita are Kiiwi (or the two tightheads they took on the EOYT). As an aside, every one of the England starting XV in their last test match against Samoa were born in England.

                But, apart from that, what makes you think Shields is a shoe-in for England blind-side in 2019? He’s got to get past Robshaw, Lawes/Itoje, and a load of other options including Simmonds, Curry and Clifford. If Shields was ruled out forever for England tomorrow, Jones wouldn’t care less.

              • Roar Guru

                December 7th 2017 @ 12:05am
                Fox said | December 7th 2017 @ 12:05am | ! Report

                I would have agreed with you about Shields two years ago Nick but he was outstanding for the Canes this season and rumour has it within NZ rugby media that he was in All Black plans for the 2019 WC as he can play all three positions in the back row and Kaino is heading north now. Too many injuries I think. Apparently Hansen was not happy when he heard Shields was going because he never spoke to him about his decision.

                Shields was every bit as good s Robshaw for the Canes this year IMO- his best season by miles and he is very physical player as well.

                But like a lot of NZ players who are on the fringes of the AB’s for too long he got frustrated and enticed by money and a chance to play international rugby in a WC so he was ripe for the picking for England scouts and EJ will have him in the squad just bet on it if he has a season like this year. NZ has too many good back rowers that is the problem for players in NZ in those positions. But Shields can play all three well making him great bench player at the very least.

              • Columnist

                December 7th 2017 @ 12:16am
                Nicholas Bishop said | December 7th 2017 @ 12:16am | ! Report

                England may ‘warehouse’ him Fox but it is not exactly a position of need for the Red Rose.

              • December 7th 2017 @ 12:34am
                FunBus said | December 7th 2017 @ 12:34am | ! Report

                England don’t have any ‘scouts’ touring the SH, FS. They can’t ‘sign’ anyone, there are no central contracts, only the clubs can do that. I suspect the clubs might have scouts around, but I bet they’re not as efficient as the Kiwi ones touring the PIs hoovering up promising 15 and 16 year olds for ‘scholarships’.

              • Roar Rookie

                December 7th 2017 @ 12:58am
                Kirky said | December 7th 2017 @ 12:58am | ! Report

                I fail to see how the hell all these ”imports from down there” is doing Northern rugby any good at all, why don’t they grow there own?

                No doubt there are born and bred players good enough to play for their country whether it be England, Wales, Scotland or Ireland but every one of the said Countries have Kiwis, South Africans and whoever else playing for them full time, it’s bad for the up and coming locals but sadly good for the International usurpers, for the back pocket that is.

                It simply can’t be conducive for the development of up coming Nationals from either Country as when you find the need to import players from other Countries rather than use their own, it’s diminishing the top playing stock of genuine Country of birth Internationals and therefore in effect not developing their born and bred players!

                I really hope that all these South Africans and New Zealanders playing for these Countries eventually get stopped one way or another and it bites the Northern Countries right on the butt!

              • Columnist

                December 7th 2017 @ 4:50am
                Nicholas Bishop said | December 7th 2017 @ 4:50am | ! Report

                Signs are that it’s reached saturation point, and as academies strengthen the production of local talent in England and France esp, the middle of the roaders may no longer be so necessary… That was the point of the Exeter reference!

              • December 7th 2017 @ 1:39am
                FunBus said | December 7th 2017 @ 1:39am | ! Report

                Well, Kirky, as I said elsewhere, every one of the starting XV for England in their last test was born in England. They’ve also won 3 out of the last 5 Under-20 RWCs and got to the final in the other two. So, on the whole, I reckon they’re fairly relaxed about their ability to ‘grow their own’.
                The only England player in on a 3 year residency is Hughes and he isn’t first choice. The others born in the SH either came to the UK as children and/or have strong parental connections with the country (well, at least stronger than players like Naholo, Fifita etc).

              • Roar Rookie

                December 7th 2017 @ 11:55am
                Die hard said | December 7th 2017 @ 11:55am | ! Report

                Agree with that. I think the five year residency law will improve things but I would still like to see the grand parent rule dropped and citizenship at least. Then all these arguments would disappear.

                I understand then racial proportion of London now favor non Anglo. We are all subjects of migration at some point.

              • December 7th 2017 @ 5:00am
                Bluesfan said | December 7th 2017 @ 5:00am | ! Report

                Sorry but stating

                “So it’s factor but hardly the main driving force in the improvement of England, Scotland or Ireland.”

                Really – what about the foreign players adding to the depth of your squad and internal competition for places – thus making you stronger?

                International rugby is being devalued by the likes of Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England literally purchasing players due to their economic strength.

                Nathan Hughes – states even in an interview that the only reason that he is playing for England and not Fiji is because of the $$.

                Hadleigh Parkes – 3 years to the day that he flies into Wales, he is representing them in Cardiff vs. SA – Zero relationship to the country and yet there he is representing them.

                B.Aki – states in an interview that he does not feel Irish – but makes the 3 year rule and bang into the Irish team.

                In regards your Points around Bunce/Bachop etc – you do realize that they were born in NZ,Tuigamala arrived as a child and Ieremia as an 18 year old – so the difference is that they are Kiwi’s with Samoan roots – they didn’t fly halfway around the world after being a professional rugby player, not making the grade in their home country and then utilizing via grandparent/3 year rule – jumping into another country’s national team.

              • December 7th 2017 @ 5:09am
                Bluesfan said | December 7th 2017 @ 5:09am | ! Report

                Per a comment below around that Scotland don’t people trawling the SH for Scottish qualified players – below is an article that I cut/pasted from the Daily Mail – whilst the Daily Mail is not the most “accurate” of newspapers – the one good point is that it looks like I could qualify to play for Scotland, so i better give them a call!

                “The Scottish Rugby Union says it will scour the world to find players eligible to play for Gregor Townsend’s national team after strict rules imposed on players’ eligibility by World Rugby.

                It comes after World Rugby voted in May to increase the required residency period (known as ‘regulation eight’) to be eligible for international rugby from three to five years.

                Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has launched a global scouting network for foreign-born but Scotland-qualified rugby players after World Rugby’s latest eligibility regulations

                Scotland have used the system to recruit South African-born duo WP Nel and Josh Strauss

                The SRU has hired a team of talent scouts – including three former Scotland internationals – to ensure its reach goes further than ever before.

                Ex-internationals Rory Lawson, Alan Tait and Ian Smith, alongside Worcester’s former head of recruitment Jan McGinity, will have a specific remit to discover ‘appropriate talent’ and also mentor more established players identified through the SRU’s existing UK-based Exiles programme.”

              • December 7th 2017 @ 6:11am
                richard said | December 7th 2017 @ 6:11am | ! Report

                re Funbus – so what if Shields’ parents are English.He is a NZer,he was born there,went through all the systems there and played his entire rugby career there.And yet,because of a dodgy qualification rule – introduced by England – you get dibs on him?

                You are right about one thing,there is no guarantee he will make the England squad.But,hey,by poaching him ,England have taken him out of the loop for NZ selection.So a win-win for your mob.

              • Roar Guru

                December 7th 2017 @ 6:16am
                Derm McCrum said | December 7th 2017 @ 6:16am | ! Report

                What is Schmidt’s pedigree in coaching for the time he has been involved? He was 3 years asst coach at the Blues and won nothing. He’s been 10 years in the NH and won quite a few. Most of his development as a coach has been in France and Ireland.

              • December 7th 2017 @ 4:31pm
                ClarkeG said | December 7th 2017 @ 4:31pm | ! Report

                Rather simplistic Poth to imply the bulk of Schmidt’s development occurred after he left NZ because he had won nothing before he left.

                You have to have won something for development to have occurred?

                He left NZ (long term) when he was in the early 40’s. I imagine with his playing, coaching and work experience to that point, he had already established a solid base to kick on from.

              • December 7th 2017 @ 9:41pm
                FunBus said | December 7th 2017 @ 9:41pm | ! Report

                Richard,

                You’ve just had a tour in which both your tightheads were born on the islands and Naholo and Fifita were some of your ‘stars’. You don’t think you’re being a little one-eyed?

                England don’t ‘poach’. Not because they’re better but because they don’t have central contracts. A club has to sign them, then the England coach puts his squad together on the basis of eligible players playing in the Aviva Prem. England didn’t sign Hughes – Wasps did. England certainly don’t have a system in which scouts tour the islands spotting promising 15 and 16 year olds and enticing them to NZ with ‘scholarships’ designed solely to get them into the NZ rugby system – now THAT’s poaching.

              • Roar Guru

                December 7th 2017 @ 10:21pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | December 7th 2017 @ 10:21pm | ! Report

                Too funny that the Kiwi boys have no idea how English rugby works.

                They are like little innocent children in their naivety HAHAHAHHAHAHA

              • December 8th 2017 @ 9:36pm
                HenryHoneyBalls said | December 8th 2017 @ 9:36pm | ! Report

                Clarke, Schmidt coached in Ireland with my local club in Mullingar even before he coached at the Blues. He also coached a local school called Wilson’s hospital. His time in Ireland goes way back and his coaching CV in the NH is much longer than in NZ.

              • December 9th 2017 @ 12:44am
                ClarkeG said | December 9th 2017 @ 12:44am | ! Report

                Yes aware of that Henry – I did say left long term – but does not change my point however.

          • December 6th 2017 @ 4:17pm
            Uk_Ozpat said | December 6th 2017 @ 4:17pm | ! Report

            and what about the SH stripping the PI nations of their players bluesfan????

            The Wallabies fielded PI-born players on the NH tour. It work both ways mate!

            • December 6th 2017 @ 6:00pm
              Bluesfan said | December 6th 2017 @ 6:00pm | ! Report

              Yes you are correct and NZ/Oz are not perfect – but I would highlight the following:

              1. Australia is in the same hemisphere as the likes of Fiji, Samoa etc – last time I noticed Europe was about 20Miles from the Pacific Islands.

              2. There is obviously a constant stream of migration from the Islands to NZ/Australia – so accordingly you are going to have a large scale representation from those migrant communities in the Wallabies/AB’s.

              2. NZ in particular is a Pacific country – Polynesians actually make up 23% of NZ’s population – Maori @ 15% and Pacific Islanders 8% – they are part of the cultural fabric of New Zealand. My family is a good example – I’m from Scottish/English Heritage – but I now have Samoan relatives as a family member married a Samoa chap.

              • December 7th 2017 @ 8:14am
                Neil Back said | December 7th 2017 @ 8:14am | ! Report

                Bluesfan, the world has changed. The ability to canoe a gap no longer defines the world to people. Catch up.

        • Roar Guru

          December 7th 2017 @ 7:56am
          Derm McCrum said | December 7th 2017 @ 7:56am | ! Report

          Yep, Nic – agreed re Scotland. The number being used is decreasing.

          I did an actual count of foreign-born players in Ireland recently. There are 258 players in senior and academy squads in the four provinces. 51 of those were not born in Ireland (NIB). That’s 19.8% of the total.

          NZ 18, SA 17, Aus 5 make up 40 of those – (15.5%)
          Eng are 5, and then a clatter with 1 including USA, Canada, France, Georgia, Spain, Fiji, Israel. (4.3%)

          Of those 51 NIB players:
          11 have Irish parent(s) and most moved to Ireland at a young age – eldest at 19 from England.
          6 have Irish grandparent(s) – NZ (3), Aus, SA, US, (1)
          9 have been capped by other countries – SA (4), Aus (2), Fiji (2) and NZ (1).
          5 are qualified by residency but haven’t been capped – SA )2), NZ (2), Geo (1)
          12 are uncapped and unqualified NZ (7), SA (3), Aus (2)
          8 are residency qualified and capped. SA (4), NZ (3), NIG (1).

          The number of residency qualified and capped from SANZAR is 7 i.e., 2.7% of the total players.

          In 2013, Ireland used 4 residency qualified players in its November squad. In 2017, they used 2 – Aki and Stander – neither of whom fill positions where there is lack of depth – midfield and back row. The picture is changing as both Scotland and Ireland develop more and more homegrown talent and that’s where the money and investment is going.

          • Columnist

            December 7th 2017 @ 8:21am
            Nicholas Bishop said | December 7th 2017 @ 8:21am | ! Report

            Many thanks for the hard research PA – puts everything in perspective!

          • December 7th 2017 @ 8:57am
            Bluesfan said | December 7th 2017 @ 8:57am | ! Report

            So if the number is decreasing – out of a match day squad – from the Sth Hemisphere so I have not counted English born etc – 20% grew and learnt their rugby in either SA, Oz or NZ?

            Amazing – the hypocrisy of it all – 20% of the team learnt their rugby offshore from Scotland and yet the numbers are declining.

            For Ireland, feel free to beat your chest when you win a game but when you have Bundee Aki in an interview stating that he does not feel Irish and yet he is now representing your country – all I can say is that’s a sad reflection of the ethics involved in selecting him for your national team.

            • Roar Guru

              December 7th 2017 @ 9:43am
              Derm McCrum said | December 7th 2017 @ 9:43am | ! Report

              The ethics?

              I hope you’re not trying to persuade yourself that SANZAAR is ethical in all it does.

              The residency law dictates whether a player qualifies. If the player is good enough, they might get selected. Live with it.

              Overall though, you’re missing the point which is that SH numbers are declining as more home-grown talent is developed. Surely, you’d regard this as a positive development?

              • Roar Guru

                December 7th 2017 @ 10:46am
                Derm McCrum said | December 7th 2017 @ 10:46am | ! Report

                A more positive figure for you to look at is that there were 42 players in the Scotland squad for November.

                21 Scotland
                10 Eng
                1 Aus
                1 Hong Kong
                1 Namibia
                1 Wales
                1 USA
                2 SA

                17 Non-SB and 21 Scottish-born means there were only 4 from New Zealand!! And all 4 of them have Scottish ancestry through parents, grandparents or great grandparents. They’d have never been comfortable in a NZ jersey at Murrayfield with the sound of bagpipes in their genes 🙂

              • December 7th 2017 @ 11:03am
                Bluesfan said | December 7th 2017 @ 11:03am | ! Report

                It’s sad really – that a national team can have 20% of their players from off-shore.

                Ireland can have Payne, Aki, CJ and who have had a deliberate policy of purchasing overseas players e.g. “Project Players” – with James Lowe the last player that they can capture because the IRB has being forced to change the rules re:residency period.

                All this and when you have an U20 team in the WC Final last year – which really does indicate that Ireland don’t need to go out and buy players if they identify that they have weaknesses.

                So yes, I will live with it – however I think it detracts from the International game and turns your national jersey into a situation where you are not being represented by your countrymen.

                For example who have Payne, Aki, CJ kept out of your team and you wonder how they feel, when those players would have bleed to get to a situation where they are potentially going to play for Ireland and then someone walks in, who has no ties to the country and as soon as his contract finishes – he is off back home – wonder how they feel – guess they just have to live with it.

              • December 7th 2017 @ 11:06am
                Bakkies said | December 7th 2017 @ 11:06am | ! Report

                Exactly Pot the Wallabies selected four Fijians that qualified on residency in the backline against Japan in Tokyo.

              • December 8th 2017 @ 10:25pm
                Bakkies said | December 8th 2017 @ 10:25pm | ! Report

                ‘I hope you’re not trying to persuade yourself that SANZAAR is ethical in all it does.’

                There is only a handful of people who actually believe that.

                ‘It’s sad really – that a national team can have 20% of their players from off-shore.’

                No it’s the reality of coming from a young country settled by Europeans and relied on migration to build up their populations. Just look at the Australian Federal Parliament it is still full of dual citizens over hundred years after Federation.

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