If the opening two rounds of this year’s Six Nations is anything to go by, then the World Cup in France could be a momentous tournament for the kings of the north.
Southern Hemisphere powerhouses New Zealand, Australia and South Africa have dominated the history of the sport’s most prestigious event.
These three fierce rivals have eight World Cup crowns between them, while England stand alone as the only champions from the north.
But that could be about to change. Ahead of this year’s World Cup, there’s genuine belief and hype surrounding the likes of Ireland and France.
Ireland are the world’s No. 1 ranked team, and France won the Grand Slam in last year’s Six Nations – which is arguably the best tournament in Test rugby aside from the World Cup.
SENZ Breakfast host Tony Kemp believes the Six Nations makes The Rugby Championship look like a “second-rate” competition.
“I got thinking about it while I was watching the game and you’ve got Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa playing in the Rugby Championship and the Six Nations, I think on the bac of the European competition, is leading us down the drain,” Kemp told SENZ Breakfast.
“We think we’re playing and preparing down here with our Super Rugby and Championship to get ready to play on this World Cup (but) I think we’re well behind the eight ball.”
The All Blacks began their international campaign in disastrous circumstances last season – at least by their high standards – after losing a series against Ireland in New Zealand.
While New Zealand went on to lose Test matches against South Africa and Argentina, they did win the Freedom Cup, Bledisloe Cup and The Rugby Championship title.
But the popularity and status of the competition, seemingly, isn’t what it used to be.
Rugby World Cup winning fullback Israel Dagg wants to see Fiji and Japan included in the competition, in order to restore the aura of the prestigious tournament.
“We’ve got to start adding teams in,” Dagg said.
“We’ve got to start adding some of these teams to be a part of the competition down here.
“That is the premier competition up in the north and the reason why is they’ve obviously got real buy-in from the clubs and across to all the players over in the north.
“If I think of a solution and you’re able to add teams to the competition down here… first couple of teams that spring to mind (are), we need to have someone from the Pacific and the team that comes to mind is Fiji.
“The Fijian team, the Fijian players… their top players are all playing around the globe. Most of them are playing up in France, up in the north and then you’ve got a couple that are playing in Super Rugby.
“You think of another team (and) you look at Japan, you have to get Japan in this competition.
“We know that, you know that, the NZR haven’t gotten into bed with them yet but we’d love to see Japan a part of that competition, knowing what they’ve done the last couple of years under Jamie Joseph.”
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