Barbarians coach Nick Mallett says top Super Rugby sides would give the European Test teams a run for their money.
England beat Australia recently while Scotland shocked South Africa, but it’s been clear that southern-hemisphere rugby is streets ahead of the style embraced up north. Mallett, a former Bok coach who now coaches Italy, said the north has got a lot of catching up to do.
‘Even your international teams would struggle to beat the top four sides in Super 14 rugby,’ Mallett said. ‘There are far too many average games in northern-hemisphere rugby. You can lower your guard in any of the domestic games and even in the Heineken Cup.
‘There isn’t the same speed, intensity, precision of execution demanded as in the Super 14. There is no easy game in the Super 14 and the fact that they have to play over three months against high-quality teams every week, with perhaps seven or eight internationals in them, demands a really good effort just to win a game.
‘Okay, if you reach the semi-final of the Heineken Cup and have a match like Toulouse vs Munster, that starts getting up to that Super 14 level. But too many games aren’t at that standard at all.’
Mallett added that the top Super Rugby sides would run the European unions close should a fixture ever be organised.
‘A good Sharks or Stormers side would give a really good game to Wales, England, Ireland, Scotland or France. I’m not saying they would automatically beat them, but it would be a bloody close game. There is not a lot of difference between a well-drilled Super 14 side in the top four and the northern-hemisphere Test teams.’