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oimatey

Status: Bok regular
Posts: 1258
Six Nations shows gap to ABs closing
March 19, 2014, 01:09:43

The best rugby writer in NZ - Mark Reason -  with another incredibly lucid piece. Thoroughly enjoyed watching the Six Nations (only NH rugby I watch) and I think the SH power houses will have their hands full with France, England and Wales. 


OPINION: The 2015 World Cup will be the most open in the history of the competition.

For nearly five years now, the All Blacks have been comfortably ahead of the game. But all the signs from the Six Nations indicate that the gap is shrinking fast.

New Zealand, of course, have never won a World Cup overseas and the task is not about to get any easier.

An unhelpful draw means that the All Blacks will cruise through the pool stage unchallenged and then be battered by the best that the northern and southern hemispheres can put up against them.

If it pans out on current form, the All Blacks would face France in the quarter, South Africa in the semi and England or Ireland in the final. Daunting.

But even if results go the other way, a run to the title of Ireland, Australia and Wales would be far from straightforward.

Normally only four teams have any real chance of winning the World Cup, but in 2015 seven nations could make a good case for at least getting to the final.

New Zealand will get a good look at England in June, but Steve Hansen and his coaching staff will presumably have been taking in plenty of other information from the Six Nations.

Here are some of the things that they may have learned.

ENGLAND

Twelve months ago England scraped home against Italy at Twickenham, unable to score a try. On Saturday they put 50 points on the Azurri.

This team appears to be growing up fast, although they will do well to win even one test in New Zealand this winter.

To put the task in perspective the Lions have won two of the previous 14 tests against the All Blacks and England will be seriously under strength for the opening test due to player unavailability because of the Premiership final.

Strengths: Power. Led by a young, strong and mobile group of forwards England often dominate the gain line. They have serious strength in depth in the pack, with three Lions not even featuring for them in the Six Nations.

Owen Farrell rarely misses goal kicks, Mike Brown is currently the best fullback in the world and several immensely powerful ball carriers get England trundling.

Coach Stuart Lancaster has a big set of ears and is prepared to learn from people all over the world, including here in New Zealand.

Ian McGeechan picked England to win one of the three upcoming tests against the All Blacks.

I am not sure I agree, but they will be a big test for New Zealand's front five.

Weaknesses: The wings are rookies and look very vulnerable in defence. The standard of passing in midfield, particularly going left to right, is often risible.

A lack of cover defence can leave England vulnerable to the chip in behind. And you still wonder about the temperament of one or two, particularly in the backs.

Brown has an arrogant streak, Farrell gets involved in too many spats and Danny Care is a work in progress. The last two times England were in New Zealand they behaved like hoons. You wonder how much they have really grown up.

IRELAND

Deserved Six Nations champions, can Ireland finally get past a World Cup quarter-final? They may just be the best coached international team in the world right now and should have beaten the All Blacks last year.

Age is a worry. Paul O'Connell, Rory Best, Mike Ross, Jamie Heaslip and Gordon D'Arcy will have an average age of 33 should they make it to the World Cup. That goes against the winning grain, with so many big games so close together.

Strenghts: Joe [removed] is coaching a team who can play in several different ways according to the weaknesses of the opposition. The defence was comfortably the stingiest in the Six Nations averaging just 10 points a game.

There are not many weak links.

Weaknesses: Goal kicking is a big concern. Jonathan [removed]ton missed a sitter against France, just as he did against New Zealand. The first-five is a very fine player, but he needs more consistency in the big games.

The age of some is a worry and the retirement of Brian O'Driscoll will make 13 a daunting number for his replacement.

WALES

There looked to be a hangover from the Lions tour, and the early sending off of Stuart Hogg meant that the thrashing of Scotland flattered Wales. But they should come of age at the World Cup and will be a hard team to knock over.

Strengths: A huge backline from 11-14 would threaten any defence. The goal kicking is immaculate, the back row turns over a lot of ball.

Weaknesses: Ireland exposed the defence of the front five and showed up the left wing with a kicking barrage. The game plan can be predictable and their record against the southern hemisphere is awful.

FRANCE

There is still a mass of playing talent in France and you wonder if one or two might be persuaded out of retirement for the World Cup. If France have a new coach by then.

Strengths: Brice Dulin, Yoann Huget, Wesley Fofana, Gael Fickou, Maxime Medard, Francois Trinh-Duc, Morgan Parra, Thomas Domingo, Benjamin Kayser, Nicolas Mas, Yoann Maestri, Pascal Pape, Yannick Nyanga, Thierry Dusautoir, Louis Picamoles.

Weaknesses: Coach Philippe Saint-Andre.




mozart

Status: Hall Of Fame
Posts: 8893
RE: Six Nations shows gap to ABs closing
March 19, 2014, 03:16:24
Personally I don't think Ireland, Wales or France have the physicality to beat the Boks or ABs regularly. But the RWC can always produce upsets like Frnce in 99.  I think it's less likely now, but still an outside possibility.

England have the players....they can play the power game. Their problem is they play in the weaker league. So when they encounter the Big Three they have to step up. The more games they play in the SH the better they will be. Their illustrious predecessors killed the NZ pack in 2003, even with 7 forwards if I remember correctly.


3ku1

Status: Bok regular
Posts: 1098
RE: Six Nations shows gap to ABs closing
March 19, 2014, 03:32:46
 Sorry beating each other in their own tournament doesent proove they well challenge the abs or boks. Once they start beating they start beating the abs reguarly then ill be convinced, until then nothings changed.


Wardad

Status: Bok regular
Posts: 1849
RE: Six Nations shows gap to ABs closing
March 19, 2014, 06:38:23
 Mark reason ? joking right ? 


sebastienchabal

Status: Bok regular
Posts: 900
RE: Six Nations shows gap to ABs closing
March 20, 2014, 06:20:04

The gap is certainly closing but NH will never dominate SH... at best might reach par and yes I hope it happens because it's very good for the game overall.


The 2015 WC on the other hand will be another story altogether and I fully agree rather like a lottery...yes on the fields of England..."dis 'n heeltemaar ander storie".


Perhaps for the first time the AB's, Boks and Wallabys don't just have to worry about each other but now Ireland, England and even Wales and ofcourse France is always a threat as we've seen in so many WC matches...especially in the final stages.


I think this is going the greatest show down in rugby history ever and I hope the refs get it honestly right because this always always spoils the competition and puts a nasty taste in every body's mouth (nothing to do with Suzie, Cloudy...lolz) because nobody enjoys bitter victory and even more bitter defeat. When refs get it right then it's a huge victory overall and if you side loses you take on the chin and give praise to the deserving victor...that is really the essence of true manly sport and is the reason why the game is superior to soccer today...soccer has been ruined by dubious ref calls and this must not happen to rugby.






sebastienchabal

Status: Bok regular
Posts: 900
RE: Six Nations shows gap to ABs closing
March 20, 2014, 06:44:05

The gap is certainly closing but NH will never dominate SH... at best might reach par and yes I hope it happens because it's very good for the game overall.


The 2015 WC on the other hand will be another story altogether and I fully agree rather like a lottery...yes on the fields of England..."dis 'n heeltemaar ander storie".


Perhaps for the first time the AB's, Boks and Wallabys don't just have to worry about each other but now Ireland, England and even Wales and ofcourse France is always a threat as we've seen in so many WC matches...especially in the final stages.


I think this is going the greatest show down in rugby history ever and I hope the refs get it honestly right because this always always spoils the competition and puts a nasty taste in every body's mouth (nothing to do with Suzie, Cloudy...lolz) because nobody enjoys bitter victory and even more bitter defeat. When refs get it right then it's a huge victory overall and if you side loses you take on the chin and give praise to the deserving victor...that is really the essence of true manly sport and is the reason why the game is superior to soccer today...soccer has been ruined by dubious ref calls and this must not happen to rugby.






Cloudy

Status: Senior player
Posts: 3479
RE: Six Nations shows gap to ABs closing
March 20, 2014, 08:18:45
Hey sebastien where have you been?  How have you been lol
Yes absolutely 100% agree....many a game has been spoilt by dubious ref calls and we don't want a brawl breaking out amongst the crowd because of them.....and we hope all susies will have repented and turned over a new leaf so to speak because we have already forgiven them once, but twice might be a bridge too far :D


Wardad

Status: Bok regular
Posts: 1849
RE: Six Nations shows gap to ABs closing
March 20, 2014, 08:25:20
 Hi Cloudy ! Mr Chabal ! 
Hmm....seems like the gaps been closing for over a century now ,continental drift works faster !


Boklogic

Status: Bok regular
Posts: 1978
RE: Six Nations shows gap to ABs closing
March 20, 2014, 08:29:44
 The AB's usually give these NH teams hidings in NZL but hand the advantage back to them in the NH yet they still manage to beat them so no, the gap is still there.
All the AB's need to do to beat the NH teams convincingly in the NH is play the gruntiest blokes they have in the pack. Guys like Brad Thorn, Retallick, Kaino, Read, Hore, Motu Matu, Latimer is what works in those conditions. The NH teams keep the game close through the forwards as they fancy their bigger guys to dominate the breakdowns and nullify the dangerous Kiwi backs usually aided by underfoot conditions..

Thats why this year when the Boks had a very strong team, none of those NH teams came close! Our forwards bully them.
NZL will need to select a pretty big and "angry" pack for the 2015 WC and then they will go in favourites again. Guys like Messam dont work there. 


Beeno1

Status: Hall Of Fame
Posts: 12206
RE: Six Nations shows gap to ABs closing
March 20, 2014, 09:37:11
 Boklogic exactly so. The abs need to find some fowards as their powder puff players could get taken to the cleaners.  Dont think the wee abs will get too far.:'(


Wardad

Status: Bok regular
Posts: 1849
RE: Six Nations shows gap to ABs closing
March 20, 2014, 09:37:20
 Crikey  boklogic,I actually agree with a lot of what you said ,strange but true !


sasuke uchiha

Status: Rugby Legend
Posts: 5864
RE: Six Nations shows gap to ABs closing
March 20, 2014, 11:57:28
All Blacks will be fine, it dosnet matter where we play NH teams or any team for that matter.
NH or SH, All Blacks are still All Blacks, so we pick our best players and we will be fine.

once we hit the quater finals, All Blacks just need to play the best possible in every position and the RWC trophy will return to its country of birth, New Zealand.

the Springboks in south africa is still the hardest away game for the All Blacks and just look how much they are getting pwned by the NZ rugby empires champion, the mighty mighty All Blacks.
any team in the NH is just a big meh in comparison.

just cos the scoreline might not be what is considered the norm, we will still win them all, just like in 2013.


becs

Status: Bok regular
Posts: 1046
RE: Six Nations shows gap to ABs closing
March 20, 2014, 19:21:22
 And none of the above is rampant egotism or arrogance !!! :O


Shezza

Status: Bok regular
Posts: 1254
RE: Six Nations shows gap to ABs closing
March 20, 2014, 20:01:34
 Becs you just described Sasuke to the dot. 

Ireland and England should be considered the threats from the NH by SA and NZ. 

Wales have too big of a mental hurdle to beat neither the Boks or the All Blacks. 

I'm a real big fan of Lancaster, he is on course to making a team like the 2003 one. If there was any foreign coach picked by me to lead the Boks, I'd pick Lancaster 10 times out of 10. 

Ireland are looking dangerous but will they be the same without BOD, not so much performance wise but team spirit etc. 

France have now become predictable, they've lost the fear of unpredictability that they gave opposition. Plus their coach is lost.


sasuke uchiha

Status: Rugby Legend
Posts: 5864
RE: Six Nations shows gap to ABs closing
March 21, 2014, 05:36:28
@shazzzzzzzzzzzza,

i see ur still smarting from the ass whipping i gave u here on this thread,,,
shazzza getting pwned

dont worry 6nats king, its not the first time its happened, or the last, LMAO, :D


sebastienchabal

Status: Bok regular
Posts: 900
RE: Six Nations shows gap to ABs closing
March 21, 2014, 06:13:05

.... ermm Sasuke San...pride comes before a fall...the ice is getting very much thinner


WC 2011 Trinh-Duc missed kick allows the AB's to win final by only ONE point in NZ to France


June 2012 AMI stadium DC's drop goal saves the AB's to win 22-19 against Ireland


November 2013...[removed]ton's missed kick lets AB's off the hook to win only 24-22 against Ireland.


and that's just France and Ireland for a starter...



Wardad

Status: Bok regular
Posts: 1849
RE: Six Nations shows gap to ABs closing
March 21, 2014, 10:41:22
 !4 games on the trot ,undefeated year any other team would be lauded to the skies but apparently constant winning is somehow a sign of impending doom ? 


becs

Status: Bok regular
Posts: 1046
RE: Six Nations shows gap to ABs closing
March 21, 2014, 11:08:15
 The actual article displays blind arrogance....WHEN we get to the Final ! Oh really...it's a given, is it ? ! That's always worked out in the past, hasn't it ? And I won't go as far as to say exactly what I think about the last RWC !!! ( Apart from to say that we were a disgrace and we fully deserved our fate ) 

Confidence is one thing and hoping you do well is another. Actually saying things such as this are really quite another entirely.
Yet if anyone else says they hope to win a match against someone or they think they will win something....well, they are the biggest, egotistical creatures that ever walked the Earth. 
I do not do hypocrisy.


In 2003, like it or not, England were the best over a long period in the run up to the RWC. They were consistent and they beat everyone during that period. That was then. I certainly didn't enjoy the Final, I got up the next day, it was over and that was that. We move on.
Sadly, our Coach had not done what he should have done and put a decent plan in place to move the team on. There was no plan for post RWC, so there were no players coming through, it should have been a transition between the old and the new. You couldn't replace some of those players like for like, it would never be possible, but we had no players to slip in seamlessly at all. We could see it, well some of us could, but clearly he couldn't. And that was an abject failure.

It has taken a man like Lancaster to pick up the pieces and start to glue us back together again. In such a short time, that is what he is doing and doing well. 
You can't work miracles, we've had a lot of disruption through injury and to think we have lost players like Corbisiero and Cole even for this Six Nations. Players like Burrell have not even played much Saxons Rugby, they're just being chucked straight in to an England International and they are equipping themselves jolly well. This is the third Six Nations he has been in charge of and we could have got a Grand Slam in all of them. This year was the closest we came, but that is pretty good going really. 
So there is much to be enthused about. And to look forward to. 
But I will say it again, this Tour to NZ is a learning curve, and a damned steep one ! If we win a match, it will be fantastic, a real bonus. But it's all about us and working out systems and partnerships. And seeing how we cope against the world's best in their own home. Judging where we stand at present. 
We are not a bad team, we are a developing team and it is not arrogance to say we already have some very good players. Why is it ok for everyone else to say that and not us ? 
Why is it also that we allegedly do not have any pride or passion ? That is not the sole remit of the Celts, I am afraid. 
It really is time that some of this nonsense is put right. 


Ireland have not performed that well, you know.....and Healy should have been off in that last match. Against 14 men, France probably would have done it. 
Although the scoreline was close, they really didn't know what to do against us. And we were struggling in the Scrum, with Wilson back for Cole having only played 40 odd mins in months after his awful injury. We knew he would struggle and he did. Joe Marler was fantastic trying to keep that Scrum up all on his own really and Wilson played his heart out, poor bloke. 
There are many ageing players in their Squad.....players who really do know how to win a match and, I'm sorry, but good as he was, BOD hasn't been their best player out there for much of the time. I can't abide making God's of men, but they have done it again, like they did with Keith Wood and look what happened when he retired. D'arcy has done sterling work in the Centre for much of that time and created the space etc for BOD, he has got the glory. You also all forget the times when his unnecessary fripperies of passing and lines has cost Tries and even matches. But that's what happens when you create a Messiah from a man. 
They will lose a lot of players now, but we shall see if they crumble without their God :) 

Wales have been poor for years. It's all talk with them and appalling reffing last year in Cardiff that made the scoreline flatter them. 
If we hadn't given them 18 points this year, they wouldn't have scored a single point !! Not a clue how to cope with the " boys " their big mouth of a Coach said they were going to hammer. And it couldn't have happened to a nicer bunch of people !!!
And the match against France was also reffed appallingly. France were treated dreadfully...even the Welsh commentators were pointing out how many Line-outs etc should have been French not Welsh and that Warburton " Try ".....yeah right. Give me a break ! France were reffed out of the game.
He needs to admit he has no plan B, work one out quickly and then actually try and beat a SH nation.......but I doubt that will ever happen :) 


Not sure what Scotland will do. It's one to watch, that's for sure. A new broom and all that. But I do agree that they need more Scots to restore the pride....the ex-players have said they feel that is a problem. If they say so, who am I to disagree ? 


France ? Who knows ? Least of all them !! They fluked it against us...those two Tries at the start were just that and we made a grave error in not having a 10 on the bench to replace Farrell when he went lame. We also had all the new guys and a re-shuffle a few mins in when May smashed his nose. 
But they have such talent....I do like Huget :) Lovely hair :) Being serious, they always have talent, but they have no plan, no structure and, oh I think I just described France as they usually are really !! They only really got structured after we kept beating them in the 80's/90's and they went all boring because of the mass sendings off......that was always fun to watch. Oh and when the Centres tried to do an intricate dummy scissors and ended up knocking each other out. I remember that one. Will Carling's face was a picture :) Anyway, I digress. They just have no idea of what they are trying to achieve, they look disinterested and they are playing as individuals not as a unit. The forwards can't win any ball. So what do they do ? Do they bring in Guy Noves ? You know they want him ? Will he do it ? Lots of questions to answer around the French team really. As per always !


But I'll say it again......we go to NZ. I am not looking forward to it but I hope they enjoy the experience and I hope we continue to build on, what I think, is a great bunch of players who have bonded into a team/squad very quickly. They needed to and they have. Mr Lancaster was my pick for the job ( Rob Baxter is the man I would like to see come into the system and maybe replace him when the time comes ) and he is not letting us down. All I hope is that we don't get too many injuries and, if we did happen to win/draw something, that would be lovely. 

But I would also like to point out that, whenever any SH team comes here, they always say they are coming to win. Why, if any NH team said the same, would it be arrogance or cause for a hissy fit ? Why would it be arrogance on one part and not on the other ? Ah yes, back to hypocrisy again !


sebastienchabal

Status: Bok regular
Posts: 900
RE: Six Nations shows gap to ABs closing
March 21, 2014, 16:20:48

Let me be quite honest...I personally respect NZ rugby more than even my countrymans and it is very stupid to argue against the best rugby players in the world, even the biggest fool in the world as long he's honest will tell you that...I really believe the difference is their coaching, their mindset and there belief and bravado...they do not complicate the game , just do the basics very well without much ado and get on the business of scoring tries.


The era has been for awhile...causing awe and bewilderment amongst all rugby playing nations...but it will change with clever and inspiring coaches who will not be at all intimidated...Jake White is one of them...the hoax will soon be broken...SA, Eng, France,and even Austr and Wales can do it...hail rugby...history is soon to be broken.


sebastienchabal

Status: Bok regular
Posts: 900
RE: Six Nations shows gap to ABs closing
March 21, 2014, 16:49:42

Becs the worldcup can go to England but I rate SA's chances more but I suspect the leveller will be be France...long overdue , knocking on the door....too close for comfort...rugby is strange and a lot of National feeling does lift the game....when sides get overconfident and complacent  they lose their extra oomph...all Shark supporters can tell you that.


I still think the Crusaders will claw back...the answer lies between  the Chiefs, Waratahs and the Sharks with the Crusties being the upset.


As I said the WC is another story.  Want to be there...A girl, Jalapeno and Pomy based guys I envy you.


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