In Rugby World Cup, Emphasis Is on World

Forget Federer-Nadal, Red Sox-Yankees, England-Germany: the biggest sports rivalry is North-South
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 6, 2007 5:53 AM CDT
France's Vincent Clerc, center, is grabbed by Dimitri Szarzewski, left, and Jean-Baptiste Poux during a captain's run training session at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, Friday Oct. 5, 2007...   (Associated Press)
camera-icon View 4 more images

(Newser) – The world is polarized over the Rugby World Cup—literally. The Southern Hemisphere has five teams in the quarterfinals, to the North's three, and fans are squaring off on either side of the equator to determine their loyalties. For the first month of the 44-day event, the southerners have played with more life, energy and attack, the Los Angeles Times notes, but for this weekend's matches, oddly, all of the referees hail from the north.

The South dominated the cup until 2003, when England stole victory from Australia in overtime, a matchup that will be reproduced today. The hosting French will also strive to defeat the South as they clash with favored New Zealand today, and Scotland faces Argentina tomorrow. A South Africa-Fiji game tomorrow will ensure that at least one Southern team reaches the semifinals.