Mike Tindall says hemisphere gap has shrunk

The northern hemisphere nations have closed the gap on their southern rivals in time for next year’s World Cup says 2003 winner Mike Tindall.

Six Nations teams won eight of their 14 meetings with Rugby Championship sides over the autumn.

“The gap has shrunk,” former England centre Tindall told BBC Radio 5 live’s Sportsweek.

“We’ve got a real good chance as a northern hemisphere to go down to that World Cup and cause some problems.”

At the 2015 tournament in England, eventual winners New Zealand were joined in the semi-finals by Australia, South Africa and Argentina.

Southern hemisphere teams have also won seven out of the eight World Cups held, with only England’s success under Sir Clive Woodward in 2003 breaking their dominance.

However, with 10 months until the 2019 tournament kicks off in Japan, there were a series of notable performance by the autumn international hosts.

Ireland recorded their first home win over world champions New Zealand,while Wales went unbeaten for the first time with victories over South Africaand Australia.

England beat South Africa and Australia either side of a single-point reverse to the All Blacks.

Joey Carbery and Bundee Aki
Ireland have never been beyond the last eight of the World Cup

Scotland, who have also beaten Australia twice since the start of 2017, overcame Argentina at Murrayfield.

“Ireland are going to be the team to beat in the Six Nations,” added Tindall.

“I think with wins over New Zealand both this autumn and in 2016, they are going to feel confident whatever scenario they go into.”

‘They are the question marks you don’t want’

Eddie Jones and Owen Farrell
Farrell has made only five starts at fly-half under Eddie Jones

Tindall believes that England need to rediscover a more ambitious gameplan after recovering from a slump that featured six successive defeats earlier this year.

“We went through a phase of winning ugly for a long period of time and once you start losing games, where is your reference point to go back to when you were performing?” the 40-year-old added.

“We have just got to get back to playing with that high-intensity and high-tempo. If we can get back to doing that I know we have the players who will always compete.”

Coach Eddie Jones has claimed that he has narrowed down the field for his 31-man World Cup squad to 35 contenders.

But Tindall is concerned there are still some issues to be ironed out in the starting XV, with Owen Farrell having been moved to fly-half from inside centre during the autumn.

“This autumn has helped with the front row. All the guys that have come in, whether it be Ben Moon or Alec Hepburn have all sort of stood up and done a job. Kyle Sinckler has been outstanding,” he added.

“But we have still got question marks around what is our best back row and what we are going to do around nine, 10 and 12. They’re the question marks you don’t want.”

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