Rugby World Cup
Will Carling: Northern Hemisphere sides favour force over finesse
ESPN Staff
October 20, 2015
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Former England captain Will Carling believes the lack of Northern Hemisphere representation in the Rugby World Cup semifinals is due to their preference of brute strength over footballing finesse.

For the first time in the tournament's history no Northern Hemisphere side has qualified for the last four with Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and South Africa set to battle it out for the Webb Ellis trophy.

Hosts England have been left to review a disastrous World Cup campaign after bowing out at the pool stage, while France and Ireland were both comfortably beaten by the All Blacks and Argentina respectively. Only Scotland, who suffered an agonising last-gasp defeat by the Wallabies, and Wales put up a fight from the home nations.

Carling wrote in his Sun column: "The mantra up here seems to be bigger is better. Let's put our faith in the 'Incredible Bulk'.

"There are other factors, like European sides playing too much rugby and our guys not having time to improve basic skills. But the underlying problem is that we keep going for brawn rather than brains.

"Our rugby has become so attritional it regularly makes you wince just watching it. While the bravery and commitment of European players can never be faulted, you just wish they would let the ball do the work more often.

"I know how close Scotland were to beating Australia but without wishing to be disrespectful to Vern Cotter's team, a lot of that was down to the Wallabies' over-confidence.

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"Until we see a big shift of emphasis in the Northern Hemisphere -- trying to create space rather than constantly seeking contact -- we are the ones who will experience most of the bad days."

Scotland came closest to a place in the last four but a controversial last-minute penalty call from referee Craig Joubert saw Australia snatch a dramatic victory at Twickenham.

"Referees like Craig Joubert are human. They will make mistakes. Our game prides itself on respect for referees," Carling added.

"I don't like to see players pressurising them by making the TV screen gesture, calling for the TMO. I want to hear less from those faceless officials, not more."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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