Has the balance of power in world rugby shifted toward the Northern Hemisphere and their monkey like smash and grab tactics or are the Southern Hemispheres fairies just about to break out the fairy dust and show us some magic?
According to the IRB world rankings the Northerners have, with 3 of the top 5 spots held by Northern teams and the last tour of the North by Southern teams resulting in some resounding wins for the North. Further evidence is obvious in the quality of the 2022 edition of the Six Nations with a variety of styles of rugby being played by the different teams resulting in some powerful, pulsating and just plain sexy exhibitions of rugby. Les Tricolores completed the grand slam on the back of one of the biggest pack of forwards ever assembled and the cunning guile of their visionary halves. The Irish played with a dash of whisky throttle and threw the ball around with speed and skill. The English are led by a young inspirational flyhalf that seems to inject himself in exactly the right places at the right times. The Welsh displayed their traditional grit and determination for most of the tournament, while the Scottish backline ran with precision breaking tackles at will. It really was an eye opening tournament for a self-confessed dissident of the dreary game usually played in the North.
The Southern teams have had much less international rugby since the pandemic and Super Rugby has been a completely different competition with strict Covid-19 protocols reducing the number of teams being played, notably the lack of South African teams and what has resulted has been an even more expansive and risqué game of rugby that has been a delight to watch but has perhaps been a little low on qualities that traditionally win test matches such as dominance at the ruck, quality set piece, accurate positional kicking and general composure. The Southern teams have proven game breakers such as Faf De Klerk, Beauden Barrett, Michael Hooper and Pablo Matera capable of sprinkling more than a touch of fairy dust on a match and they will set the toes of their respective teams twinkling to the try line if given the slightest of chances.
It certainly appears to be the most competitive rugby environment ever seen and with the World Cup looming I look forward to seeing whether the Northern Monkeys can find that touch of Southern Fairy dust to begin a new era of rugby.