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Friday Nov 23, 2018

Lima Sopoaga has reason for North vs South gap closing and then casually burns American rugby

Lima Sopoaga has reason for North vs South gap closing and then casually burns American rugby

Never one to shy away from saying exactly what’s on his mind, former All Black fly-half Lima Sopoaga sat down with BT Sport’s Rugby Tonight and offered up some food for thought on the current state of the game, who should be the starting All Blacks number 10 and who he says is his current favourite player.

The Kiwi playmaker famously left his homeland in his prime and now plies his trade in the Gallagher Premiership with Wasps.

He spoke openly about how he believes the lure of the All Blacks jersey is no longer enough – on its own – to keep top talent from being pulled to the Northern hemisphere.

As this is the last weekend of the Autumn internationals, the conversation turned to just how small the gap has become between Southern hemisphere sides and their counterparts in the Northern hemisphere.

When asked about it, Sopoaga agrees it’s close but is quick to point out that the common denominator is that the home nations and Ireland are all coached by Southern hemisphere coaches, though Gregor Townsend now coaches Scotland.

This year’s internationals are being framed as a benchmark heading into 2019 Rugby World Cup year, and by all appearances, the Northern hemisphere sides have gotten their timing down correctly.

As is said in the clip, if the home nations and Ireland win all their matches this weekend, their success rate against Rugby Championship sides will go to 87% for 2018.

All Blacks fly-half selection is another topic covered, with Sopoaga believing the best possible outcome lies with both Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo’unga on the pitch at the same time. No doubt that question had to hit close to home, considering he would be in that mix had he decided to stay in New Zealand.

Perhaps Sopoaga’s most interesting answer, or harshest depending on where you’re from, is reserved for one of the closing questions.

When asked about a future of playing rugby in America, he answered: “Maybe when I’m washed up… Maybe when I’m 36… try and collect one final paycheck.”


  • benny
    5:51 PM 23/11/2018

    What Sopoaga is missing is that the black jersey is still the same strong lure for players in the 23 or even 30. But he could see the writing on the wall with a number of quality 10s in front of him and coming through and chose the money instead. It's rare that a guy like Piutau or Hayman leave in or before their prime.

  • jold
    12:51 PM 23/11/2018

    Nothing wrong with being money driven.  Especially if your career can end suddenly with someone's shoulder contacting your knee while your foot is planted.  I like his honesty.

  • colombes
    10:24 AM 23/11/2018

    The gap is not closing between SH and NH teams, but between New Zealand and the rest of SH and NH teams.

  • pickay
    9:30 AM 23/11/2018

    Sopoaga really cementing his attitude towards the game: Went to England because money is more important than the All Blacks jersey. Now he slams US rugby, but would still consider going there if they'd pay him enough. If you want to be positive about it at least you could say he is very open about being money-driven.

    • gallego
      1:48 PM 23/11/2018

      What's wrong about being money-driven? He's a professional rugby player, it's not like he's going to do this until he turns 65, is it?

      • rugbydump
        8:30 PM 23/11/2018
        Top Comment

        Sometimes it's not what you say, but how you say it. 

      • pickay
        4:30 PM 23/11/2018

        As a general attitude towards life I think there is a lot wrong with money being your number one priority. I could elaborate, but would probably end up contemplating the meaning of life, which would overshoot the mark here. But of course that's a matter of opinion.

  • 19andrew92
    9:16 AM 23/11/2018

    Are we considering the Scottish Borders as the southern hemisphere now then?? cause Gregor townsend's from Gala! 


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