So far in World Cup warm ups,South Africa have failed to win away (in fact their second string was almost embarrassing). Ireland, England, Wales, Argentina and now New Zealand have all failed to achieve anything on the road. Only Australia and France have achieved anything away from their own pitch.
Why is travelling so hard?
Rugby at the top level remains a game of ebbs and flows. The physical battle between the two sides is so full on the margins are fine. It is rare that a team does not have some period of ascendancy, some chance to get on top. Never more so than when you are at home. The strength of the crowd’s support the confidence on your own patch all seems to allow a team to take points even when they are not playing well.
Away fro home the reverse is true. You have to keep the scoreboard moving in the toughest of moments. You have to be able to take your chances, all of them when they come and close the door on the home tide when it comes. Brilliant defence and opportunistic attack do not always come from the same team.
South Africa before winning in 2007 had a clean sweep of Europe. England before 2003 had won all through the Southern Hemisphere all the way to the Cake Tin, outscoring New Zealand with only 13 men on the field.
So what has the weekend taught us.?
It is hard to think that any South Africa result means much at the moment. They are so out of sorts that Australia’s narrow win does not really say that much about a team outclassed by New Zealand the previous week.
So what about France? Going to win in Dublin has not been easy for almost a decade. Ireland dominated the game for long periods. They started and finished well. They scored three tries and d still lost. For periods of time France were unstoppable and when they weren’t they weren’t Ireland couldn’t stop them scoring.
They took their points brilliantly and defended just as well. They have the look of winners about them home and away.