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Welsh journalist Stephen Jones hasn’t held back in his latest piece for the Sunday Times, labeling the Rugby Championship as nothing more than a ‘second division’.
While the All Blacks are comfortably the world’s number one team, Australia and South Africa languish behind Ireland, Wales and England, while Argentina are way down in tenth position.
Jones calls the competition “the second division of the global game”. He says “facts and not circumstantial evidence” backed up his claims, starting with the world rankings.
“Ah well, those southern softies will catch up one day,” said Jones.
But he did have some begrudging praise for the All Blacks.
“Naturally, we must exclude New Zealand from all criticism, as ever, as they are cruising along. The statistics are magnificent if you are Kiwi but not so good if you are trying to market the competition as a fierce event.”
But as for the Rugby Championship itself – Jones didn’t hold back.
“In six seasons the average attendance has dipped from just under 46,000 to just over 30,000, and if that carries on they will be playing in a phone box inside a decade.”
“Argentina have won only three of their 33 games, a dreadful return after the momentum they brought with them on being admitted to the tournament.”
“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.”