Rugby boss denies gulf between hemispheres

World Rugby boss Brett Gosper has rejected theories of a gulf existing between rugby union’s northern and southern hemispheres.

Scotland’s controversial 35-34 defeat against quarter-final opponents Australia at Twickenham on Sunday ended European interest in the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Ireland bowed out on the same day after being crushed 43-20 by Argentina, while Wales departed at the hands of South Africa 24 hours earlier and France were destroyed by reigning world champions New Zealand, conceding 62 points.

It meant that for the first time in eight World Cup tournaments no northern hemisphere country will enjoy semi-final representation, with next weekend’s last-four games seeing South Africa tackle New Zealand and Argentina take on Australia.

The northern hemisphere had two countries in six of the previous seven World Cup semi-finals, while France were the solitary 1999 representatives.

Irish great Brian O’Driscoll has argued the Pumas’ drubbing of Six Nation champions Ireland should have the Wallabies camp on red alert.

“Argentina have shown the gulf in class now between the southern hemisphere and the northern hemisphere and how much the Rugby Championship has worked in their favour, being included in that,” said the 141-Test legend.

“Obviously they’ve piggy-backed on their first (RC away) victory against the Springboks in Johannesburg earlier this year.

“Now they’re putting together a very nice World Cup.”

But asked on Monday if there was a wider gap between north and south, World Rugby chief executive Gosper said: “Look, anyone could have won those games.”

“So I think if you drew that conclusion, I’d say it would probably be wrong,” he said.

“Whether it be Wales or Scotland, you could have seen two teams progress through.

“Other teams were slightly more fortunate and went through, but I don’t think you can draw a broad conclusion that there is a gulf between north and south from that.”

Reflecting generally on the north’s collective early World Cup exit, Gosper added: “I think they will look at all aspects of their own teams to see what led to this. They are all are very ambitious, obviously.

“All of those teams, and we saw it, were capable of getting into a semi-final, maybe even a final, so I think they will do their own individual reviews and find their own reasons for why they didn’t go as far as their ambitions would like to take them.

“Whether that impacts the global season is another issue, but we are in conversations about the global season to see if it can be improved, to see if it can find a better balance than it currently has.

“It’s not an easy process, and it’s not easy to find the reconciliation of all interests, but we are trying to do that.”

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