The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

June tests show north-south divide remains; hold World Cup warning

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand - Southern hemisphere sides have maintained their dominance over northern hemisphere rivals in June rugby internationals, raising the spectre of a local shutout at next year's World Cup in Britain.

No. 1-ranked New Zealand beat World Cup hosts England 36-13 to complete a sweep of their three-test series, No. 3 Australia beat France 39-13 for a similar three-match sweep and No. 2 South Africa edged Wales 31-30 for a 2-0 series win after previously beating a World XV.

England, France and Wales were all facing fresher opponents at the end of long seasons and would not see their recent defeats as disheartenting or irredeemable more than a year from the world tournament.

But the three series provided further evidence that superiority still lies with the southern powerhouses of the game.

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