'Their event is inferior' - British All Blacks critic says Six Nations superior to Rugby Championship

British rugby writer and All Blacks critic Stephen Jones has now taken a swipe at the Southern Hemisphere game as a whole, declaring the Rugby Championship to be "the second division of the global game."

With the current world rankings seeing the All Blacks at number one, Southern Hemisphere sides aren't represented again until number five, with Ireland, Wales and England the next sides bridging the gap between New Zealand and Australia.

Writing for the Sunday Times, Jones didn't hold back in his criticism of the Rugby Championship, declaring it inferior to the Six Nations.

"It is impossible not to regard the Rugby Championship, which begins next weekend in Sydney and Durban, as the Second Division of the global game," Jones says.

"Some precious dears Down Under can be a little sensitive to criticism of their rugby but this time we have not a shred of circumstantial evidence to back up the claim that their event is inferior. All we have are facts.

"In World Rugby’s rankings, the competing teams stand first (New Zealand) but then fifth (Australia), sixth (South Africa) and 10th (Argentina). The Six Nations teams are second (Ireland), third (Wales), fourth (England) and seventh (France) with Italy 14th. Ah well, those southern softies will catch up one day."

However, while usually a vocal critic of the All Blacks, Jones did state that New Zealand would take some beating if any other side are to triumph at next year's World Cup in Japan.

"The signs are that come Japan 2019, New Zealand will not be the only team in the race but the next month or two must reveal proper contenders, second-ranking event or not.

"New Zealand will surely come out ahead but the world needs evidence that the demolishing of the black machine is on the horizon."

Autumn International, Twickenham, London 8/11/2014  
England vs New Zealand All Blacks
New Zealand's Ryan Crotty is held up short
Photo: James Crombie/www.photosport.co.nz
The match is the first between the All Blacks and England since 2014. Source: Photosport


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Beauden Barrett 'still the number one' first-five over Richie Mo'unga, says Dan Carter

All Blacks great Dan Carter has thrown his support firmly behind Beauden Barrett as the first-choice in the number 10 jersey heading into next year's World Cup, following Richie Mo'unga's heroics against South Africa last weekend.

Coming off the bench in the second half in Pretoria, Mo'unga proved to be the All Blacks' saviour, slotting a conversion after the final whistle to steal the win after his side had been 30-13 down to the resurgent Springboks.

With Barrett having moved to fullback to accommodate Mo'unga's inclusion, debate has begun to arise as to whether or not the twice reigning World Player of the Year stay in the number 15 jersey, allowing for both stars to play at the same time though.

Speaking on Newstalk ZB this morning though, Carter said that the All Blacks need to persist with Barrett as the creative linchpin of the side.

Mo'unga is set to start in the No.10 jersey against Argentina in Nelson. Source: 1 NEWS

"He's still the number one 10 but to have the competition with Richie there, and when the time is right in certain games for Beaudie to go to the back and Richie come on and add another string to the backline," he said.

"It's the kind of depth and competition you want in a squad.

"For me Beaudie is still the leader in that All Blacks side and what he's achieved in the last three or four years has been incredible."

Carter also praised Mo'unga's emergence as a genuine world class player, having steered the Crusaders to back to back Super Rugby titles.

"I'm extremely proud of Richie and the way he's progressed over the last couple of years. I worked with him down at the Crusaders and he's got such a clear head. He doesn't let pressure get to him as we saw in the weekend.

"The fact he's putting Beaudie under a lot of pressure is great."
 

Barrett unselfishly let young Mo'unga take the game winning kick against South Africa. Source: 1 NEWS


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Wayne Barnes to referee All Blacks v Ireland, Jerome Garces takes charge of clash with England

All Blacks may not be happy with the refereeing appointments for this year's end of year northern hemisphere tour, with Jerome Garces and Wayne Barnes to officiate New Zealand's clashes against Europe's best.

Barnes, 39, has earned the ire of All Blacks fans in the past, famously missing a forward pass against France that led to New Zealand's elimination from the 2007 World Cup in Cardiff.

He will take charge of the All Blacks' clash against world number two Ireland in Dublin on November 18 NZT.

Meanwhile, French referee Garces, 44, who showed Sonny Bill Williams a straight red card in last year's second Test against the British and Irish Lions, will officiate the much anticipated Test between the All Blacks and England at Twickenham on November 11.

The All Blacks' end-of-year tour begins on November 3 against Japan in Tokyo.

Referee Wayne Barnes.
2nd Bledisloe Cup Test of the 2018 Investec Rugby Championship.
New Zealand All Blacks v Australia (Wallabies) at Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand on 25 August 2018.
Copyright photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz
Rugby referee Wayne Barnes. Source: Photosport


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'We've discussed what we need to change' - Michael Cheika happy with Wallabies coaching staff

Michael Cheika isn't convinced personnel changes to the Wallabies coaching staff are needed in order for the team to climb back up world rugby's pecking order.

Slipping to a historic low of seventh, the Wallabies coach will next week present to the Rugby Australia board his plan to improve the team's performance ahead of next year's World Cup.

Cheika didn't believe sweeping changes to his set-up were required but is looking for greater collaboration from the Super Rugby franchises.

"We've discussed what we need to change internally and I think before we go chopping guys or changing things around you need to understand what we need to change internally to make a difference because maybe what we were doing before hasn't achieved the same outcome," Cheika told Fox Sports' Kick and Chase.

"You need to give the opportunity for changes to sink in and make a difference."

Rugby Australia boss Raelene Castle also appeared in a pre-recorded interview and floated the idea of a head selector.

Cheika said he hadn't had any discussions about such an appointment.

"No-one's spoken to me about that ... I will say this though, I'm not just picking numbers out of a hat - I take advice from coaches who've been in the job in the past," he said.

"I'm always taking counsel on those things and I think more often than not we're making the right calls."

Cheika said he was looking for more buy-in from Super Rugby sides, hinting at the frustration of the Brumbies choosing to play three Wallabies just before the June Ireland series when he wanted them rested.

"There's no doubt that the more we can collaborate with Super Rugby with what we can deliver around fitness leading into the international season, that's definitely something we can push for," Cheika said.

"This year we've had moments where we've tried to manage that but we haven't been able to get a handle on it completely.

"But there's a willingness from Super Rugby coaches that I speak with regularly to change and improve so that's the biggest thing."

Cheika also revealed that his famous half-time spray of the players when they were trailing 31-7 against Argentina last weekend didn't include any "technical information".

He said the response was more than just scoring tries, which delivered a 45-34 victory.

"It was a time when it had to get personal ... people have talked about the chat at halftime but you've got go out and do it and they did," Cheika said.

"What they just had to do was understand that this is personal, let's do what we know how to do, do it as best we can, and see what happens."

Castle was happy to see the group respond to Cheika to secure the win but said the question still needed to be asked about the first half performance.

She said that while Cheika had a contract through to the World Cup, the board wanted to see more detail.

"He's the head coach and it's his responsibility to put that plan together and he will be presenting that to the board," she said.

"We want to see what is the plan? What is the plan to recognise that we can see improved performances?"

Psychologist Sara Chatwin has some tips for Michael Cheika, who was left fuming at the weekend.
Michael Cheika Source: Photosport


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