The penultimate weekend of the international rugby year appeared to provide evidence of a change to the world order but beware of reading too much into the Ireland win over the All Blacks, for it may be a mirage. A fatigue factor in the northern hemisphere autumn international season distorts perceptions. Ireland were brilliant against the New Zealanders, the Scots were excellent in their narrow defeat to the Springboks, and France were strong for the second successive week, this time getting the result they deserved by beating Argentina. But tired minds and bodies played a big role in all three games. It is the same story when the northern hemisphere teams come south for the June internationals, but there is reason to believe it is tougher for the southern teams in November. Fatigue is not just caused by the physical demands of the season, but also by the travel commitments, which are far more demanding in the south than the north. All Black coach Steve Hansen alluded to it in Cape...

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