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Mike Tindall: The gap between Hemispheres is marginal, but All Blacks are way out in front

20 Oct | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Mike Tindall: The gap between Hemispheres is marginal, but All Blacks are way out in front

The Betway ambassador and World Cup winner believes there is no need for Six Nations to panic as long as they learn from their disappointment

The forthcoming semi-finals of the Rugby World Cup will not feature a single Six Nations side for the first time in the history of the competition, but I do not believe that the gap in standard between the Northern and Southern Hemisphere is widening.

International rugby is all about small margins. Games at the top level are decided by one per cent either way and unfortunately all of those key moments went in favour of the Rugby Championship sides over the weekend.

We still have teams who can compete with the best in the world which was proven by the fact that on another day we could quite easily have had two teams in the last four.

Scotland performed magnificently, and they deserve enormous credit for not paying any attention to all of those who had written them off and leaving everything that they had on the field.

They were desperately unlucky at the end of the game with the late line-out that went astray – but the fact is that if they not been brave and taken risks then they would not have been in the position that they were with a two-point lead to protect in the first place.

With hindsight, it is possible to see that the decision of referee Craig Joubert to award Australia the penalty for deliberate offside was incorrect, but watching it live my instinct was to agree with him.

Referees are not allowed to refer those types of infringements upstairs, and that is probably a good thing for the game.

Throughout the tournament people in the stadiums and watching on television have home have been calling for less interference from the TMO, and once you begin to double check such marginal calls then you have to ask where will it end?foley-penScotland will be absolutely devastated but once that initial hurt subsides they have got plenty of reason to feel positive.

Vern Cotter is clearly a quality coach and has done a fantastic job in turning their fortunes around.

Even when they were awarded the wooden spoon in the most recent Six Nations, the signs of a recovery were there.  

Scotland’s issue during the last few years was always scoring points but they are now playing a brand of rugby that has seen them throw caution to the wind and score plenty of tries.

Hopefully they will keep getting better and better and bring the good times back to Murrayfield.

It was a similar story for Wales, who were in the lead with five minutes to go before being undone by one great little bit of skill off the back of the scrum to get Fourie de Preez over in the corner.

Wales were probably a bit guilty of worrying too much about the open side rather than the blind side where the try came.

Gareth Davies was so mindful of potentially having to get across to cover that he was unable to do a job on the number eight, and then once Alex Cuthbert came in he had to be wrapping the ball up – although credit must go to Vermeulen for producing such a fantastic offload under pressure.

Yet Wales have discovered that they have greater strength in depth than they realised before the tournament, and they now know that they can rely on a few guys further down the pecking order which will be a good thing going forward.

Ireland also found themselves without some key men for their quarter-final against Argentina which was always likely to be close even if everybody was fully fit.

Credit to Ireland because I never thought that they would come back as close as they did after Argentina flew out of the blocks, but just when they started to believe that they could overtake them on the scoreboard the Pumas found another gear and pulled away again.ireland-sadA lot of these Home Nations players are young enough to be involved at the next World Cup and beyond, so as long as they learn from this experience and understand how to avoid making those mistakes again then both they and their teams will be stronger.

What the quarter-finals did confirm is the difference between New Zealand and the rest of the world, although France put them under so little pressure it is difficult to know how much you can read into that particular result.

This current crop of All Blacks are such an impressive team because they can get the job done in a number of different ways.

It is difficult to know how to try and combat them because if you try and rough them up up front then they can take you on in a physical battle, and if you try and attack by looking to go wide then they are happy to give the ball some air as well.

Should they go on to become the first team to retain the World Cup then I believe it would confirm them as the greatest team in history and be just rewards for the last four years when they have been so far ahead of everybody else.

That is the difference with New Zealand. There are teams out there who can beat them on their day – but it has to be their day because the Kiwis’ performance levels never drop below a certain point.

It is that consistency where the Northern Hemisphere nations need to improve in terms of maintaining those standards week in, week out and not just turning it on for the odd game.

There is no doubt that we have got the players to take on the very best, it is just about implementing that on the pitch. 

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