The southern hemisphere has usurped its northen counterpart at the 2015 World Cup Rugby tournament.
Only once in the history of the event has the winner come from the northern hemisphere (England in 2003). And never have the semi-finals been graced soley by teams from south of the equator.
But the trend towards the Southern Hemisphere will continue after France were humiliated by New Zealand, Wales succumbed to South Africa, Ireland were undone by Argentina and fate turned against Scotland in their clash against Australia.
The French newspaper Le Monde said the loss against the All Blacks was “cruel” and “nightmarish” while the French sports secretary Theirry Braillard said it was “a little like the defeat of French rugby as a whole”.
Liberation said it eloquently with its headline: Noir c’est noir, les Bleus n’ont plus d’espoir – a reference to the Johnny Halliiday record and roughly translated black is black, there is no hope for the Blues.
But it was left to L’Equipe to sum up the feeling in France with the headline: Le Désastre. The French were, it said, exhausted, humiliated, devastated.
Scotland were unlucky to not go through against the Wallabies. With minutes to run down on the clock they fluffed the final line-out. They called the ball long and lost it. Seconds later the referee awarded Australia a penalty, which they grabbed with both hands.
Craig Chalmers from the Scotland Herald described their quarter-final defeat as “gut-wrenching and dreadful”.
“The calls went against us, we did not get the rub of the green. If we had we would have won. The boys, to a man were outstanding.”
A finger is pointing straight at the northern hemisphere countries, where winter has descended with numbing speed
Former Scotland captain Gavin Hastings talking to BBC’s Five Live about the referee said: “That is the worst thing I have seen on a rugby field in a long time.”
Duncan Smith said the Scots had “picked their own pockets” while Falkirk Police tried to make light of the incident in a tweet.
Paul Hayward from the Telegraph said: “Whatever the final verdict on Craig Joubert’s refereeing [for Scotland v Australia], a finger is pointing straight at the northern hemisphere countries, where winter has descended with numbing speed. The common denominator? New Zealand, Australia and Argentina venerate skills. They believe that to play rugby to international trophy-winning standard you have to put skills first.”
Argentina’s fluncy and flair left the Guardian’s Kevin Mitchell gushing: The enthralling Pumas, he said “began in a scoring blur, soaked up the counter-punches and finished with a level of composure that New Zealand would have been proud of in dispatching France the evening before”.
New Zealand, Australia and Argentina venerate skills. They believe that to play rugby to international trophy-winning standard you have to put skills first
Neil Francis from the Irish Independent said his nation were lacking with it came to “mental resilience” at the hightest level.
“Is it competitive anxiety – how can we not psychologically back up one big performance with another? Is it an Irish thing or is it a European thing that we do not have the mental resilience and dexterity to go again or even kick on to a higher level?”
The independent’s chief sports writer Ian Herbert paid tribute to a Wales team that was gutted by injuries:
“It’s no more or no less than Warren Gatland’s accomplishment with Wales, a side down to third-string players some of their most avid followers had never heard of, who took South Africa to the wire.”
Former captain Johnathan Davies said they would have beaten the Springbok had they not been deprived of their key players.
The welsh were without full-back Leigh Halfpenny, Jonathan Davies, centre, Cory Allen, scrum-half Rhys Webb, Eli Walker, Rhodri Jones, to name a few.