Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

Tri-Nations stranglehold a potential problem for rugby

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Northern hemisphere hopes are raised at the start of every November but by the end of the month it has usually become crystal clear that the Tri-Nations’ stranglehold on world rugby remains as tight as ever.

Already, after the opening exchanges produced a 3-0 sweep for the south last Saturday, the imbalance is there for all to see.

Rugby’s problem, with so few major national teams playing the game, is that it will not be long before fans just get bored with the same old same old.

New Zealand were not exactly comfortable in beating England at Twickenham but they did win by 10 points and always seemed able to add to their tally whenever the hosts drew close.

The one thing rugby union could copy from league – 13 players

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Rugby union seems to be eternally engaged in a forlorn struggle to make itself more entertaining without losing its soul.

For all the rule changes the game has undergone, many matches still turn into battles of attrition decided by penalties rather than slick hands and sidesteps.

Tri-Nations waves goodbye to tedious kick-and-chase

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Australia’s shock win over South Africa in Saturday’s Tri-Nations breathed new life into a series that was in real danger of fizzling out.

The Wallabies’ 21-6 win not only stalled South Africa’s seemingly unstoppable march to this year’s title but also provided some much needed entertainment.

You can beat Europe’s top teams but you can’t beat the Six Nations

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odriscolSouthern hemisphere fans might scoff at the quality of Europe’s premier rugby competition but, yet again, the Six Nations championship has proved itself unrivalled when it comes to unpredictability and excitement.

Having waited 61 years for their second grand slam, Ireland were within seconds of having it cruelly ripped from their grasp, only for Stephen Jones’s last-minute penalty to fall short in Saturday’s nail-gnawingly tense Cardiff finale.

This glorious, unpredictable northern festival

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Wales' Leigh Halfpenny celebrates his try against England with Andy Powell during their Six Nations rugby union match in CardiffYou wouldn’t have got great odds on Wales and France coming out on top against England and Scotland respectively on the first day of the second weekend of the Six Nations.

But England beating Wales in the try count at the Millennium Stadium and Scotland taking the game to the French the way they did in St Denis were not forecasts I’d read anywhere.

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