All Blacks smash records and send message with successive Rugby World Cup triumphs

Revel in the moment. World champions has a nice ring to it and for another four years the All Blacks will embrace that title. They came, they saw and, indeed, conquered to confirm their status as the indisputable benchmark.

Rarely does this team get to truly celebrate. So often it’s on to the next task.

This time their emphatic 34-17 World Cup triumph over the Wallabies at Twickenham offers the chance to pause, reflect on a remarkable four-year period of unrivalled dominance and put the finishing touches on some memorable careers.

Not only did Steve Hansen’s men crush a few theories and once again extend the bar for others, they showed the world how rugby should be played. With pride, passion and panache. World Cups can be won with attacking endeavour after all. Now that’s something to aspire to.

Their victory, the first on foreign soil by New Zealanders at this pinnacle event and first back-to-back by any nation, was a victory for running rugby.

What a blessing it was to see five tries scored by both teams on the biggest stage. Dour this was not.

Chokers and All Blacks cannot be used in the same sentence.

TOBY MELVILLE/REUTERS
Richie McCaw and the All Blacks have gone back-to-back, becoming the first team to win successive World Cups.

Tributes will flow for some time – a parade down Auckland’s Queen Street is already being planned – and why not after the best World Cup final in history.

Like it or not, rugby forms a special place in New Zealand’s national identity. It brings people together; inspires and helps put a small country on the map.

“I feel pretty warm inside and proud of the men you’ve been into battle with over the years,” inspirational captain Richie McCaw said. “I’m going to enjoy the next couple of nights before we head home and enjoy their company because we’ve been through a lot together.

“It’s different to when you hope to get there. We expected to come and play our best. If a team was better than us on that day then so be it, but we knew if we did that we gave ourselves a pretty good chance.”

All pieces of the complex puzzle fell into place for Hansen. Not by chance, either. He spent four years moulding youth and experience and deserves every accolade that comes his way.

Off the field he got it right by inviting families, wives and girlfriends into camp to ensure a work and life balance and release the valve once a week.

On the field his masterplan of holding things back during pool play before unleashing against France, scraping past the Springboks and putting the Wallabies to the sword largely came off without a hitch.

He always says worry is a wasted emotion. Once again the All Blacks had to survive a yellow card, this time to Ben Smith, and a spirited Australian comeback. Once again Hansen’s men responded under extreme pressure.

“Whether it’s the greatest team or not that will be for other people to decide,” Hansen said.

The tournament had Richie McCaw’s leadership and Dan Carter’s control stamped all over it. They will go down as two of the greatest of all time. Ma’a Nonu’s classy contributions deserve equal recognition, as does Conrad Smith’s composure. Keven Mealamu and injured prop Tony Woodcock complete the six servants signing off their coveted test careers.

With the Webb Ellis Cup on its way to New Zealand for a record third time, the farewells couldn’t have been scripted any better.

Long after the final whistle the crowd lingered to share in the history-making achievement. Post match celebrations, celebratory haka and victory lap followed.

“This time we turned up with a strong belief and a real motivation compared to 2011 when perhaps we turned up wanting to win for the country and all the other reasons,” No 8 Kieran Read said.

“There was certainly a difference but no less satisfying. I’ve tried to stay away from everything this week and how crazy it’s been but we’re looking forward to getting home.”

There a rousing reception awaits the freshly crowded champions.stuff.co.nz

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About Martin Myers
Music Supervisor / Artist and Talent Manager / Publicist / Music Exchange Founder / Owner Triple M Entertainment

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