France knocked out by New Zealand (Gallo Images)
London - For the first time in the eight editions of the Rugby World Cup, no Northern Hemisphere country has made it to the semi-final stage.
As a result, for the seventh time, the Webb Ellis Cup will be heading south of the equator with England in 2003 the lone Northern Hemisphere victors.
So alarmingly is the northern "shut out" that only on one previous occasion did two Northern Hemisphere teams not make it to semi-finals (1999 when France were the lone representatives).
On every other occasion two countries from north of the equator have reached the semi-finals.
With England hosting this year's tournament, hopes were
high that the north might win again, but the tournament has shown that
the gap may well be widening, displaying a clear gulf between Super Rugby and the Rugby Championship in the south and the European Cup and Six Nations in the north.
The performances of the Northern Hemisphere countries will no doubt once again call into question the current club
structure in Europe, with the massive influx of overseas players having a detrimental effect on the various national teams.
Foreign players bought at great expense by teams in England and France in particular take the place of local players, thus denying them the opportunity of gaining much-needed experience and game time.
Whether anything is done to address the current plight ahead of the 2019 World Cup in Japan remains to be seen...
Sport24 Editor Garrin Lambley is covered the 2015 Rugby World Cup live from London