Wednesday 24 January 2018 / 02:50 PM

Same old Hemispheric story at RWC

As our Australian readers celebrate, I beg you to spare a thought for your poor Northern Hemisphere cousins.

As I sit here writing this, Australia have just pinched a win against Scotland; thus ending the Northern Hemisphere’s involvement in the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

In truth, most had expected the Wallabies to make short shrift of the Scots, but the reality was that – as with Wales’ clash with South Africa on Saturday – it was far closer than most had imagined.

And yet it was the same old story that we’ve read, sucked up and digested for many years now.

The inquests will now begin – with England’s having already started a couple of weeks ago – into why do the Southern Hemisphere teams seem to have such a profound advantage over their Northern Hemisphere counterparts?

The answer is, on the face of it, relatively simple: they are just better at rugby union.

And while this is true, it would be a disservice not to look at the phenomenon with fresher, more searching eyes.

While the Southern Hemisphere giants do indeed seem to be better, the fact remains that in more than one match in this World Cup, the North and the South have appeared to be on par – only for the South to pull ahead at a critical point.

So, why does this happen? It happened when Wales played the Wallabies, and when they played South Africa; and again in today’s clash between Australia and the Scots.

In my mind, I can only come with one explanation: there is something psychologically inferior in the way that the Northern Hemisphere teams approach these clashes.

By and large, the quality of the players is not vastly different. Okay, so the All Blacks do seem to have a conveyor belt of supremely skilful players, but it would be churlish for anyone to pretend that the starting line-ups of South Africa or Australia are vastly superior to England, or Wales.

What also is no different is the quality of the coaching, the training or the conditioning.

With all the physical reasons exhausted, it seems that there really is mentality left. That’s the only thing I can put my finger on.

When Australia are behind, the belief that they have to pull it back is absolute. When Scotland were ahead, there was always the sense that they could screw things up.

For me, this outlines the main difference between the two hemispheres. Confidence.

For a sport with so much physicality, mentality is perhaps overlooked more than it should be. Because the reality is, that mentality is the reason why all of the Rugby World Cup’s semi-final qualifiers are from the Southern Hemisphere teams, with the Northern Hemisphere ‘heavyweights’ sent home early from their own party.

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Seb Greenwood

CBS’s longest-serving contributor, Englishman Seb is our leading football correspondent, pulling no punches with his opinions on the Premier League and the international scene.

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