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Fri 23 Mar 2018 | 08:02

'Small' teams are stepping up

An Exeter cult hero and Spanish bust up
Fri 23 Mar 2018 | 08:02

'Small' teams are stepping up

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Watch the discussion from the 21st minute!

Prior to the Six Nations, England were the firm favourites but losses to Scotland, France and Ireland has many believing they have hit a stumbling block and are at risk of their recent performances snowballing.

The same can be said about the Lions' performance against the Sunwolves in Round Five of Super Rugby, where they edged the Japanese franchise by just two points. However, it may be inaccurate to suggest that the more established teams are getting weaker.

"There is a large part of me that believes teams that teams are not getting worse. Teams that are coming forth like the Sunwolves, like Ireland, they are coming to the party when it comes to playing a good brand of rugby. It is not like we are seeing a bad game of rugby. 

"It's not like the Lions are getting worse [based on the result against the Sunwolves], I think the other teams are learning from the top teams and seeing how they can compete with them. They are obviously going away and training to combat good sides.

"The same with the England side. Ireland has gone away, done their homework and has come back. They are performing well but everyone says that England is bad. Yes, England needs to continue improving in order to keep that gap but the reality is that England will still go out and beat a lot of sides. 

"Ireland is just a quality side at the moment. They've got a great balance between young and old, a forward pack that gives them great ball and a backline that are ready to express themselves. They are at a time in their lifespan as a squad where they are playing a good brand of rugby," Morgan Newman said.

Anton van Zyl believes the improved performances of the small teams bodes well for the game, especially Super Rugby after the competition was reduced from 18 teams.

"I'm relieved the Lions won but at the moment on the log, the Lions are number one and the Sunwolves are number 15 – they are last. We want to see games where number 15 is challenging number one.

"That is why it [Super Rugby] was reduced from 18. That is a good thing," van Zyl said.

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'small' Teams Are Stepping Up | Rugby365