North closing in on South

Written by Wesley Weber (wpw)

Posted in :In the news on 11 Dec 2008 at 09:08
Tagged with :

London – Wales wing Shane Williams believes top European nations are closing the gap on the southern hemisphere even though his side were the only country to defeat one of the ‘big three’ in last month’s Tests.

News24 reports that Williams, recently crowned the International Rugby Board player of the year, scored a fine try during Wales’s 21-18 victory over Australia on November 29.

But that was a lone success with New Zealand completing a grand slam of wins over Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England on successive weekends.

Meanwhile world champions South Africa were also unbeaten on a shortened trip which didn’t include a Test against Ireland while the Wallabies, who also saw off France and Italy, proved too strong for all their European opponents except the Welsh.

Nevertheless, while accepting the Tri-Nations were still the sides to beat, Williams told BBC Radio Five Live here Wednesday: “I don’t think we’re a million miles away. We’re narrowing the gap every year.”

The 31-year-old added: “Whereas in the past New Zealand would come over on tour and thump all the teams, this year teams are proving we can compete with the best in the world.

“We felt we were good enough to beat South Africa, we played a very good 40 minutes against New Zealand but lost in the second half and then we beat Australia.

“Saying that, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa are the best three sides in the world at the moment, without question.”

Williams refused to be drawn on whether Wales, who last season topped the Six Nations standings after completing a grand slam of wins, were still the best team in Europe.

“We will find out in the Six Nations,” the Ospreys flyer added. “I think we’re playing the best rugby at the moment.

“We’ll see. We’re progressing. I don’t want to jinx the side but we are capable of big things I think.”

Earlier this year, Williams became Wales’s leading try-scorer, breaking the record held by Gareth Thomas with his 41st score in just 56 appearances.

It was all a far cry from 2002 when the diminutive Williams was left pondering his rugby future.

“I felt I’d lost a bit of form due to recurring hamstring injuries, Williams explained.” It got to the point where I got really frustrated with myself.

“In the end I told myself I had to grow up – there are players out there with far worse injuries and gave myself a kick up the backside. It was a turning point in my career.”

One goal that Williams has still to achieve is to be a member of a victorious British and Irish Lions squad – something he aims to put right in South Africa next year.

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t thinking about that slightly,” he admitted.

“I would love to go on this tour – it certainly would be my last. With the calibre of players going, they are capable of winning in South Africa.

“I’d love to be a part of that. It’s all about form, staying injury free and being fit for the next six or seven months.”


  • The gap is a long way from closing.
    We’ll prove that when we cane the Lions.

  • Comment 1, posted at 11.12.08 09:37:30 by blckshrk - BUCS Reply
    blackshark - I'm back!
  • Sure thing Hobbit – you think JPP maybe rattled his brains with the way he brutalised him in Cardiff a month ago? 😈

  • Comment 2, posted at 11.12.08 10:41:41 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • How many tests have the North won in the last 10 years against the south? My guess is not many.

  • Comment 3, posted at 11.12.08 10:44:10 by McLovin Reply

  • While on the topic of cricket. πŸ™„ I checks Amla made a ton in the warm up match. ….and Kallies 50.

  • Comment 4, posted at 11.12.08 10:55:33 by McLovin Reply

  • But I’ve just noticed it’s a 50 over match and we made 185. 😯

  • Comment 5, posted at 11.12.08 10:56:26 by McLovin Reply

  • While the contest is 50 overs a side, the match will not be played under normal limited-overs conditions.

    Both teams will use 12 men, there are no limitations on the number of overs that a bowler can bowl and no fielding restrictions. The side batting second will stay on the field until 50 overs have been delivered whether they have passed the first-innings total or not.

  • Comment 6, posted at 11.12.08 10:58:06 by McLovin Reply

  • North have won something like 7 percent of games against the south over the last two years. Gap has never been as big as it currently is, not to mention so completely tilted to the south.

  • Comment 7, posted at 11.12.08 11:00:28 by VinChainSaw Reply
  • @VinChainSaw (Comment 7) : How many games have the North won while playing in the south ❓

  • Comment 8, posted at 11.12.08 11:07:44 by Pokkel Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Author
  • @Pokkel (Comment 8) : I don’t recall the North beating any south side in the south at least not the last 2 years…I forgot Argentina…I think they did lose to the Irish once. But as far as the ‘Big 3’ are concerned I don’t think they have lost in the south to a north team

  • Comment 9, posted at 11.12.08 11:11:01 by Pokkel Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Author
  • @McLovin (Comment 6) :
    Short Test Match… πŸ™‚

    Amla! Amla! He better do the same in the main Series…

  • Comment 10, posted at 11.12.08 11:29:34 by blckshrk - BUCS Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • @Big Fish (Comment 2) : That should explain his state of confusion…

  • Comment 11, posted at 11.12.08 11:31:53 by blckshrk - BUCS Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • @Pokkel (Comment 9) :

    The onyl game I can think of is a game we might’ve lost agaisnt France just before the WC?

  • Comment 12, posted at 11.12.08 11:47:32 by VinChainSaw Reply
  • @VinChainSaw (Comment 12) : We lost to France on 24th June 2006. Got it from http://www.rugbydata.com/southafrica/france/gamesplayed

  • Comment 13, posted at 11.12.08 11:59:09 by Superwors Reply

  • @VinChainSaw (Comment 12) : that was in 2006…

  • Comment 14, posted at 11.12.08 12:03:18 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • For the North to prove their worth they need to come down south and consistently beat us at least 50% of the time and ‘ol Shanie I don’t see that happening in the near future

  • Comment 15, posted at 11.12.08 12:13:35 by Pokkel Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Author
  • @robdylan (Comment 14) : That wouldn’t count even if the gap was a crack – but we’re talking the Grand Canyon here… πŸ™„

  • Comment 16, posted at 11.12.08 12:13:52 by blckshrk - BUCS Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • Hey Shane, pull out your micrometer and start measuring.

  • Comment 17, posted at 11.12.08 13:31:59 by Salmonoid Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Salmonoid the Subtle

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