The North Punishes the South
The whole rugby world is getting turned on its head and the ever-controversial North vs South debate is on everyone’s lips!
- Is the North overtaking the South?
- What should be read into these victories?
- Which country is the strongest in the North and the South when it comes to club teams?
- How long will this shake-up continue?
- What would be the best way to see strength vs strength?
Let’s get stuck into some of these questions and see how the wonderful world of rugby is evolving.
Is the North Overtaking the South?
This past weekend delivered some interesting results in the world of rugby; Tokyo Sungoliath beat the Blues 43-7 while the Saitama Wild Knights beat the Chiefs 38-14.
…and the defending United Rugby Championship team vs the defending Super Rugby team Munster, beat the Crusaders 21-19.
If viewed in isolation the quick conclusion would be that the mighty New Zealand (Olympus) has fallen!
Over the years, the New Zealand teams have often put up 2nd stringers in their club warm-up games and that was the case in the matches in Japan, but that was not the case in the Munster vs Crusaders clash!
On the other side of the pond, South African clubs have entered the United Rugby Championship and the European Rugby Champions Cup (previously the Heineken Cup) and they are displaying some all-around competitive performances.
What should be read into these victories?
The gap between North and South at club level is starting to disappear VERY quickly.
The Irish, Scottish, English, French, and Japanese teams are well-managed and coached and they are forces to be reckoned with.
The New Zealand teams have rested on their laurels for a long time and have become complacent over the years as a result of their continuous dominance. They have though, in all fairness, been quick to react and adapt.
The South African teams rely heavily on their monstrous players but at times don’t have their coaching and administration at the same level. This is rapidly improving and main coach Rassie’s flamboyant attitude is rubbing off at all levels of the game.
Overall, the game in South Africa, New Zealand, Japan, Europe, and the UK is evolving into a group of top professional leagues.
In my opinion, though the North (mainly Ireland, France, and England) holds the slight advantage for now while the others are playing catch-up.
Which country is the strongest in the North and the South when it comes to club teams?
In terms of club teams Ireland is dominant in the North. This is even though they only field the 4 provincial teams.
Leinster and Munster lead the pack without a doubt. No insult is meant for the French teams with Bourdeaux and Toulouse continuing to be dominant forces. It is just at the present moment that I think the Irish are a little step ahead.
In the South, it sits with South Africa. The two teams leading the charge there are the Stormers and Bulls.
How long will this shake-up continue?
The good news for neutral fans is that we will see this going on for the rest of 2024 and probably well into 2025 as well!
What would be the best way to see strength vs strength?
The inclusion of the South African teams in the Europan Rugby Champions Cup and the United Rugby Champions Cup is truly a step in the right direction.
What would make it even more exciting is if we could see a compilation of major pools.
One that includes the teams from Africa, Europe, and the UK in two tiers in one pool. Let’s call them THE WEST (with THE WEST 1 and THE WEST 2)
Then a second pool includes teams in two tiers from Australia, New Zealand, the islands, Japan, South America, and North America. Let’s call them THE EAST (with THE EAST 1 and THE EAST 2).
Within the two tiers, there can be a promotion-relegation battle both in THE WEST and THE EAST.
Then there can also be a knockout for the “World Champions” with a quarter-final, semi-final and final.
This can take the top 8 teams in Tier 1 of THE WEST vs THE EAST but also the top teams of Tier 2 from THE WEST vs THE EAST.
Just an idea. A small logistical nightmare but an interesting concept nonetheless. Let’s see, perhaps someone with influence reads this post!