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France’s comprehensive victory over England last weekend, to secure its first clean sweep in the Six Nations in 12 years, not only confirmed a shift in European rugby dominance across the channel but put the southern hemisphere on notice that next year’s Rugby World Cup (RWC) hosts are going to be hard to beat.

It also signalled how inevitable the disruption of the traditional north-south perspective on the international game is, in favour of a recognition of the importance of exchange rates and time zones in the modern world — to professional players and online television audiences alike...

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