Irish lead way for Six Nations over Southern Hemisphere trio

Ireland have same number of wins (four) over Southern Hemisphere big three as obtained by England and France

Ireland’s Jamie Heaslip, Ian Madigan, Peter O’Mahony and Robbie Henshaw celebrate on the final whistle after defeating Australia at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday. Photograph: Inpho

Ireland’s Jamie Heaslip, Ian Madigan, Peter O’Mahony and Robbie Henshaw celebrate on the final whistle after defeating Australia at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday. Photograph: Inpho

 

Ireland’s scalping of two of the Southern Hemisphere’s big three not only stood out as the first time they achieved the feat since also beating South Africa and Australia in the November clean sweep of 2006, but was also the pick of the Six Nations countries.

Wales and England have still to host South Africa and Australia next Saturday, but thus far the only other European win against the aforementioned duo or New Zealand in the month gone by was France’s win over Australia.

In the last round of the global sparring before the 2015 World Cup in England and Wales, the Six Nations sides managed three wins in nine matches against New Zealand, South Africa and Australia, losing the other six. Even when including the newest member of the Rugby Championship, Argentina and their wins over Italy and France after initially losing to Scotland, the leading six European countries managed just four wins and eight defeats.

Relatively productive

In truth, this actually made for a relatively productive autumn for the Six Nations. After Australia won the first two World Cups in the Northern Hemisphere (1991 and ’99) South Africa won the last World Cup in Europe, the 2007 tournament in France, by beating England in the final, although that competition also witnessed quarter-final victories for France and England over New Zealand and Australia.

Since then, the teams from the Six Nations have met the big three from the Southern Hemisphere on 122 occasions, and have managed a paltry 16 wins, with two draws and a whopping 104 defeats.

Ireland actually doubled their tally of wins over the big three in that period this month, by adding to the 15-10 win over South Africa at Croke Park in November 2009, and the 15-6 win over Australia at Eden Park in the World Cup pool meeting in 2011.

This gives Ireland the same number of wins (four) over the heavyweight Southern Hemisphere trio as obtained by England and France, albeit from fewer encounters, and thus fewer defeats, 13, as against the 20 and 18 losses suffered by England and France.

Wales have met the big three more regularly than any other European side in the intervening seven years, but their latest brush with a famous win – leading the All Blacks with a dozen minutes to go before being hit by three late tries – maintained a trend which has seen them lose 27 of 28 encounters with New Zealand, South Africa and Australia.

Welsh woes

Indeed, since beating Australia 21-18 at home in November 2008, Wales have lost 22 games in succession against the Southern Hemisphere trio.

Scotland have met them the most infrequently, winning three and losing 10, while Italy have lost their last 16 clashes with the trio.

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