The Rugby World Cup is currently underway. The superpowers find themselves in unfamiliar position – they have all lost thus far in the pool stage of the tournament.

New Zealand, the perennial favourites to win every Rugby World Cup, lost to the host nation France. Well, today, the All Blacks have just put Italy in their place, thrashing the Europeans 96-17.

Before that, the second best team in the southern hemisphere, South Africa, were edged out 13-8 by Ireland – the world’s number one ranked team.

And then the third force from the southern hemisphere over the years, Australia, were pummeled 40-6 by a vibrant Wales side. The two-time world champions are now hanging by a thread in the tournament.

Few, before the World Cup, would have thought that the three giants of the southern hemisphere sides would lose matches in succession. But I’m not surprised at all. The northern hemisphere clubs and franchises are investing more in rugby. They are picking very good players from across the globe and giving them good contracts.

For example, Charles Piutau (New Zealand-born Tonga player), Duane Vermeulen, Frans Steyn, Handré Pollard (all from South Africa) have plied their trade in competitions like the French Top 14 and the English Premiership.

These European franchises have taken advantage of their financial muscle, ahead of their southern hemisphere counterparts.

Current Settings….

Results show that the so-called “home nations” have caught up and have overtaken the traditional superpowers. Results don’t lie. As we approach the knockout stage of the 2023 Rugby World Cup, we see that England in 2003 – under the guidance of coach Sir Clive Woodward and captain Martin Johnson – were the last northern hemisphere team to win the World Cup.

Writer Chris Tavonesa.

For me, it’s good for the game. More teams are embracing the game, especially in the north.

The knockout-out stage we are approaching will be more intriguing than previous World Cups. Teams are going to go toe-to-toe. Fans will have a good time.

Ireland and France are knocking on the door. The French are led by their captain and scrumhalf, Antione Dupont, who is changing the position of scrumhalf – playing flat passes, taking the ball up to the forwards pack, and creating forward momentum for the team.

Then you have Jonathan Sexton, the old guard, who is still proving he has what it takes. Take a look at the pinpointing kicking against South Africa, the world champions, last week.  The Irish have rocked the southern hemisphere and it’s clear for everyone to see that the balance has shifted.

Only a miracle can save New Zealand, South Africa and Australia from staying in the tournament. The results have been building up, and this is no coincidence.  

*Chris Tavonesa played schoolboy rugby for Kyle College in Masvingo, Zimbabwe, then for Harare Sports Club and Alexandra Sports Club in Harare at senior level. He is a sports enthusiast and a SportsCast resident expert.


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