Six nations don’t cut the mustard


Unless something is done to bridge the gap between the northern and southern hemispheres, it will remain virtually one-way traffic.

David Lord
Expert on The Roar

There are 101 countries playing international rugby of a sort, the IRB rankings pretty much tell the story.

The “haves” – the All Blacks ranked 1, Boks (2), and Wallabies (3),

The “have nots” – England (4), Wales (5), France (6), Ireland (7), Scotland (9), and Italy (13).

And the “never wills” – the other 92 countries, even though Samoa (8), Argentina (10), Fiji (11), and Tonga (12), are ranked in the world’s top 13.

The second criteria is the Rugby World Cup, where the All Blacks (1987 and 2011), Wallabies (1991 and 1999), and the Boks (1995 and 2007) have won six of the seven Cups, with England (2003), the only nation north of the equator to be successful.

The third criteria is a set of stats over the last six years, kicking off from June 2008 when most of the current stars were included.

During that period the Al Blacks have played the Six-Nation countries 36 times for 34 wins.

The two losses were against France 27-22 at Carisbrooke in June 2009 and England 38-21 at Twickenham in December of last year.

The Boks have been on duty 29 times for 26 wins.

The three losses were against France 20-13 at Stade Toulouse in November 2009, Ireland 15-10 at Croke Park in November 2009 and Scotland 21-17 at Murrayfield in November 2010.

The Wallabies have been the “weak link” of the Big Three, winning just 30 of their 38 games.

The eight losses:

Wales 21-18 at Millennium November 2008
Scotland 9-8 at Murrayfield November 2009
England 21-20 at Stadium Australia June 2010
England 35-18 at Twickenham November 2010
Ireland 15-6 at Eden Park September 2011
Scotland 9-6 at Newcastle June 2012
France 33-6 at Stade de France November 2012
And England 20-13 at Twickenham this month.

Total those three sections and the Big Three has played the Six-Nations 103 times for 90 wins.


Rugby is all about history and tradition, the code is rich in both. But the full story is just as bleak for the Six-Nations sides, they haven’t been able to cut the mustard on the world stage.

France is the best performed of the six.

They have beaten the All Blacks 12 times, the Boks 11, and the Wallabies 17.

That’s 40 wins from 155 internationals. Hardly riveting.

England’s next best having beaten the All Blacks seven tines, the Boks 12, and the Wallabies 17.

That’s 36 wins from 153 games. Likewise ordinary. But it gets worse.

Scotland has never ever beaten the All Blacks in history, but have had nine wins over the Wallabies, and five over the Boks.

All up, 14 wins from 95 internationals.

Scotland has never ever beaten the All Blacks in 29 starts, but have beaten the Wallabies nine times, and the Boks five.

All up 14 wins from 95.

Wales have beaten the All Blacks three times, the Boks once, and the Wallabies 10 times.

All up 14 from 107.

Ireland has also never ever beaten the All Backs in 27 starts, but have beaten the Wallabies nine ties, and the Boks four.

All up 13 from 92.

Then basket-case Italy. The Azzurri has played the Wallabies 16 times, the All Blacks 12, and the Boks 11.

That’s 39 internationals and the Italians have lost the lot.

Total up this criteria, and the Six-Nations have only won 117 of their 671 games against the Big Three.

And unless something is done to bridge the gap between the northern and southern hemispheres, it will remain virtually one-way traffic.

More Grand Slam tours will make a difference.

Since 1905 there have only been 28 Grand Slam tours, just nine converted.

The Boks (4) in 1912-13, 1931-32, 1951-52, and 1960-61.

The All Blacks (4) in 1978, 2005, 2008, and 2010.

And the Wallabies in 1984.

But only one in reverse, against the 1958 Wallabies, skippered by prop Bob Davidson from the Gordon club.

England won 9-6, Ireland 9-6, Scotland 12-8, and Wales 9-3.

That was no mean feat by the Home Unions, the Wallabies were a strong side with household names of the day like Terry Curley, Ken Donald, Rod Phelps, Jim Lenehan, Arthur Summons, Des Connor, Nick Shehadie, Tony Miller, John Thornett, and Jim Brown,

I envisage the All Blacks, Boks, and Wallabies schedule Slams in turn over three years with the Rugby World Cup in the fourth season.

That’s the only way the Six-Nations can gain the experience to bridge the enormous gap between the haves and the have nots.

Slams are a huge incentive for the Big Three, as they are for the Home Unions. Therefore, the suggestion is a win-win.

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  1. Agreed.
    Jake White is needed for missionary work to inject some needed virility into “Old Europe”.

    He should have gone to England instead those turtle-necked tea sippers that run ERFU chose some zombie named Lancaster they unearthed in a bog somewhere.

    Meanwhile Wales is approaching fraud territory with their recent showing. Gatland obviously would rather be coaching the BIL show ponies.

  2. For years now the European rugby leagues have had an influx of southern hemisphere rugby players and it did not strengthen their national teams even though their players now supposedly play in tougher competitions. Makes one think doesn’t it.

  3. England smashed the world number ones last season, ran them closer than the Boks could this season and beat the world numbers threes…

  4. @Craven:

    Neither has it weakened their national sides. The relative strengths of national sides have hardly budged since the dawn of rugby.

    Think about that.

    Will it ever? What is it tied to?
    The headline says, something must be done, but if there was something to be done, why had nobody think to do it in a 100 years?

  5. For two years the NH havent managed against us.
    I am not concerned by how close
    france and England even wales came.

    I believe tjere is a gap
    Between tje All Blacks and the rest
    of which we are leader of other pack
    of contenders.

    IIts about as good as it gets with 9 man rugby.
    If we played a fiveteen man game
    with our depth and talent
    and right management
    We could be unbeatable.

    But the might of our forwards is minimized by
    an impotent back line .
    Arguably this come from the top
    and not from the players.
    Easy to spot what we should change.
    It all depends on what type of rugby
    we wish to see the Bokke play
    and whether they have the courage to develop
    new.or rather,forgotten strengths.
    And how we go about encouraging that change.

    Other wise i cant see us cathing and dominating tje AB.
    quotas is rearing its ugly head again and
    this might put us back further.

  6. @bryce_in_oz:

    Sure, and yet how many times in the last 5 years have they managed to beat the ABs and the Boks? They may pop the odd surprise, but they are hardly consistent are they?

  7. @Timeo:

    My point exactly. Why do we constantly worry about weakening or strengthening competitions if it does not seem to carry any real measurable benefit for the national teams?

  8. I have had the fortune of living through an autumn international season from the vantage point of the Irish, and to me the solution is simple. The North and the south has to play another more frequently. Ireland had a culture shock against Oz and then bounced back because in reality they are a mighty fine team.

    Yet what happens now? They next meet for the six nations and chances are your play Italy and Scotland for 2 weeks running. What happens to your tempo and your intensity then>

    Before you know it both france and England also adjust their pace to suit the Six nations and before you know it they are all a notch down.

    Grand Slams are one thing but I would also like to see us Play Wales in SA for 3 tests at the start of our season and not play Scotland, Wales and Samoa etc. This was at least Wales gets a good proper run with a whole squad against SA and get to grow and learn.

  9. and to lift the next tier (america/canada/romania etc) we need the Saxons, Emerging Boks, Maori etc to play these nations regularly.

  10. For plenty of years now the only time that the NH teams have been able to win test series against the SH teams, have been when they combine as the B&I Lions. Why I cannot say.

    Maybe more proper tours against SH teams is the answer. Maybe we should have one year of Tri Nations, one year of NH incoming tours, but proper one’s where the touring team plays 3 matches. We can then have 2 series a year with 2 NH teams each playing as series of 3 tests against a SH team. So 2 6 nations team touring a SH team in that year. The we dont play Tri Nations that year, which will bring back the special occassion which is playing the All Blacks. But that might just make our rugby worse. I dont know, but I do like the idea.

  11. That is why it is silly to messuare ourselves against these teams. Sure, England and France do have very strong squads ocasionally, but they don’t beet SH teams consistently enough. Australia’s end of year results summed it up for me. If the worst Australian side in years can come close to winning a grandslam it tells you just how poor rugby in Europe is at the moment.

    That’s why the RC is currently the benchmark and why our results against NZ and Aus will tell us how our team is developing.

  12. There is a disconnect between the motivation of the fans and the insiders.

    For us fans, winning is the ultimate goal and the standard by which success or failure is measured.
    For the rugby insiders, those who make their living from it, the most important goal is revenues. Winning games is not the end, it’s a means to an end and it’s only one amongst others.

    From the perspective of the insiders, rugby in the NH is doing fantastic.

  13. Agreed Timeo.

    From a fans prospective Euro-Nat sides rugby is an utter Obamacare.

    The big business end of those same locales?
    Love it like pigs in mud.