MONACO – Former All Black captain Sean Fitzpatrick believes New Zealand’s dominance is under threat from northern hemisphere teams and no longer the Springboks and Wallabies.
With the Rugby World Cup to be played in Japan next year and the All Blacks having won the last two editions of the tournament in New Zealand and England, Fitzpatrick doesn’t think that South Africa and Australia, both two-time winners of the World Cup, have what it takes to stop the All Blacks.
The Springboks face off against the All Blacks in their opening pool match on September 21 at the International Stadium in Yokohama, with the two sides having last played against each other in the 2015 World Cup semi-final, which New Zealand won 20-18.
“No disrespect to Australia and South Africa, but I think the major challenge to New Zealand in 2019 will come from the northern hemisphere,” Fitzpatrick said from Monaco, where he is attending the Laureus World Sports Awards.
Fitzpatrick, who now lives in London, says there has been a vast improvement by northern hemisphere teams and it is evident with how competitive the Six Nations has become.
“Living in the northern hemisphere, I see year-in, year-out and week-in, week-out how these players are changing their attitudes and how they’re getting better. It’s mind-blowing what they’ve (Scotland) done in the last few years. I think the threats will definitely come from England, Ireland and even Scotland now.
“I want world rugby to be strong. I’m a fan of watching Test-match rugby, and we need a competitive environment, without a question.
“Even the Six Nations at the moment, everyone is loving it because it is so competitive. Five of the teams could potentially win any game, and that is good,” said Fitzpatrick.
As much as the ex-hooker enjoys watching the All Blacks winning, he doesn’t think their dominance is good for world rugby.
“As much as I want New Zealand to dominate, I don’t think it’s healthy for World Rugby to have one team dominating year-in and year-out.”