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from Left field:

Tri-Nations stranglehold a potential problem for rugby

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.