RWC 2015: New Northern Hemisphere Rugby Nations Arise

As the World Cup closed and club rugby returns, I look at the progress of some new rugby nations and how their progress may have surprised many a regular rugby fan. Despite the semi-finals being dominated by southern hemisphere teams, the progress of some northern hemisphere sides has sparked debate over whether they should be included in future Six Nations tournaments. Georgia have to be the leading contenders for this, with Romania giving a shout to be included also.

New Northern Hemisphere Rugby Nations Arise


Gorgodze’s side looked very impressive in their four group games, stealing a sneaky breakaway try vs. the All Blacks in Cardiff. Winning two games against Tonga and Namibia and scoring four tries definitely proved they have progressed since the 2011 RWC, and they must now have a case to join the Six Nations, especially with Italy having a poor World Cup and Scotland having a few bad years lately in the northern hemisphere showcase. Surely they have made a strong case to be involved in the tournament, but to be honest I don’t think they should be dropped into it quite yet. If they are going to be allowed to join the Six Nations sooner rather than later, I would suggest some sort of two-legged play-off where the Six Nations wooden spoon holders take on the winners of the European Nations Cup (currently Georgia) for a spot in the northern hemispheres biggest tournament.

If I had to rate the chance I’d give them out of ten, I’d go for a 7/10 on letting them play in the Six Nations.


Pound for pound Romania probably drew one of the harder groups, as they were drawn with two heavyweights in the game in Ireland and France, and also with Italy to contend with and Canada, too. There were no easy ties and with a close defeat to Italy and a resounding victory over a strong Canada side, they are also proving they can contend with the tier one nations, especially as they were in the French game for 50 mins. With some stars playing in France they have the skill sets and the size, especially up front. If they are to have a shot at the Six Nations it would either have to be increased to eight nations to facilitate the fixtures weekly layout, or they would have to overtake Georgia in the European tier two tournament race.

I’d have to give them an overall ranking of 5/10 on deserving a shot in the Six Nations.

USA & Canada

The USA team – dominated by largely big men and fast runners – had a poor Rugby World Cup by their standards, but nonetheless have come a long way since the last World Cup down-under in New Zealand. Not only have they improved skill wise, but their scrum has become all the more powerful and with the announcement of a new pro league in America itself, earlier this year they are only going to develop further. This league will include 6 teams from major metropolitan areas in the north east and will begin in April of next year. Six pro teams will allow a better system to be created and a structure that can easily develop talent from the mass of population around the US, and if colleges embrace rugby union then the accessibility of US rugby will be heightened further. Not only has the United States gone out of the ”new nation” stage of rugby, but it is on the cusp of becoming the next ”Japan” in the 2019 RWC, ironically in Japan. The pro league is surely going to bring youngsters through and in four years time at the World Cup they should be a force to be reckoned with, especially considering they had a tough group this year with Japan, Scotland, Samoa and the Springboks.

Canada really did well in the World Cup just gone, with key players like Hassler and DTH Van Der Merwe shining brightly, with the latter scoring a try in each group game he played in. Also from 2017 Canada will have some pro teams in  the pro league alongside USA. This will not only increase competition and keep players ion a competitive league structure, but they will encounter larger talent pools by playing US players as well as Canadians. They have moved on leaps and bounds since RWC 2011, and with the introduction of the pro league they are sure to impress further.


Under Eddie Jones, Japan achieved huge success in this years RWC by beating USA and Samoa, but also South Africa as well; creeping over in the dying seconds to seal that famous win down in Brighton. Their clubs back in Japan are progressing nicely attracting stars such as Shane Williams and Alesana Tuilagi a few years ago. This is really supplying talent and developing it too, with Jones choosing many Japanese lads to play in the squad rather than foreign players who only qualify for Japan through residency or other forms other than birth. This has provided huge support for their national side as well as the backing of the entire nation. Many Japanese fans made the tremendously long journey to the UK and saw their side narrowly miss out on a quarter final slot to Scotland by only two points. They gathered huge British support after their cracker of a game against the Springboks, and this propelled them to a good finish, although it remains to be seen whether the short turnaround or amount of changes to the side cost them the game against Scotland in which they received a thrashing. Overall Japan were very pleased and wished Eddie Jones all the best as he moved on to England and when they host the RWC in 2019 they can, and depending on their group they probably should qualify for the knockout stages.

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