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The Southern Hemisphere Rugby Media Are Really Taking Notice Of Ireland Now

Gary Reilly
By Gary Reilly
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The Grand Slam is on the cards. Any other year this would be fever pitch time, and while it is still critically important, there's a voice in the background saying we're building towards something more. The Six Nations is usually the pinnacle of what Ireland work towards, but this is a World Cup year.

Right now, Joe Schmidt wouldn't dare take focus away from Wales first and then Scotland but for the rest of us, there's a very bright horizon out there. And the rest of the rugby centric world know it as well.

Usually the Six Nations is more of a footnote for the Southern Hemisphere nations in the same way The Rugby Championship is for us. Entertaining but not critically important. However, given the year that's in it and the strong showing from European sides in the November internationals, there's a very definite sense that a lot can be learned from the Six Nations campaign.


Which means all eyes are on Ireland. Here's how the rugby media from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa viewed Ireland's tenth consecutive win.


This week, the folks at Rugby HQ have been effusive in their praise of Joe Schmidt's side. To the extent that Ireland are apparently the 'roughie' to win the World Cup. We're guessing that means outside bet but we may need a more accurate translation on that one.

New Zealand

The New Zealand Herald have put together a 'What's been learnt in the Six Nations?' piece and it's very much concentrated on Ireland.


Ireland have not lost since England turned them over in a tight one at Twickenham this time last year - the best current run of any senior Test side in the sport, including the All Blacks. They are not the greatest in the tight-forward department and their post-BOD centre partnership is still bedding in, but they possess the world's best half-back partnership in Conor Murray and Jonathan Sexton, which counts for a lot in the great scheme of things.

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The official All Blacks website has put together a nice little article entitled 'Nine things the All Blacks might have noticed about the Six Nations'. Five of the nine are Ireland centric. Sexton's great, they already knew that but they're also starting to get onboard the Henshaw hype train.

Henshaw gives Ireland Nonu/SBW type attack

The weight of a player, like any human being, can be a fickle thing, but most guides agree that 21-year-old Athlone born Robbie Henshaw, weighs just over 16 stone in the old language (102kg).

They may not have the hands that throw passes like silk rain in the midfield (BOD), but the Irish now have a raw power that looks at home in chaos of an international centre channel.

The athletic back scored what was, considering England’s fight back in the back end, the match winning try. More importantly it has ensured that Ireland need only pay their respects to Brian O’Driscoll. They need not mourn his absence with the likes of the Connacht wunderkind stepping into the midfield.

And then there's yet more love for Joe Schmidt from his homeland.

Schmidt becoming Superman

Joe Schmidt is working his magic. The one time Ranfurly Shield coach has now matched Ireland’s greatest ever winning streak (10). This victory comes after England ruined their Grand Slam dream last year - their last loss - and now Argentina (twice), Australia and South Africa have been conquered.

Keeping a lid on expectations will be key. If the mighty feat of a Slam is achieved, it will be difficult for the Irish to keep their craic under control heading into the Rugby World Cup.

South Africa 

The match report from Ireland vs England in SA Rugby Mag is very telling indeed. Over here we get to see the Irish tinted match report or the England tinted match report. The South African view of the match was probably even more Irish tinted than we were.

It was billed as a title decider – it couldn't have been much more decisive. The reigning Six Nations champions were far and away the better team, and must now surely be considered as more than 'dark horses' for World Cup honours later this year.

Devin Toner was massive in the lineouts, Conor Murray managed the game superbly from scrumhalf, while Robbie Henshaw deservedly picked up a try for his all-action display.

None of the above is pat on the back stuff, instead it's just a measure of where Ireland are in the global rugby consciousness. Now, as Joe Schmidt would say, let's forget about the World Cup and concentrate on Wales.

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