The All Blacks once again flexed their muscles from the top of the rugby tree as they comprehensively outclassed Australia, beating them 22-0 to retain the Bledisloe Cup and return to the top of the Rugby Championship.
It was, as ever with the All Blacks, a case of executing their basic skills better than the opposition. Unusually though they blew a number of try scoring opportunities, with only Israel Dagg’s superbly worked try to show for their efforts.
As always though, Dan Carter was in imperious form with the boot, kicking 17 points, while their defence was predictably watertight, repelling wave after wave of Wallaby attacks without conceding any penalties. Their line speed and ferocity at the breakdown when they sniff a turnover is a lesson to all in desire.
It is a worrying sign for the rest of the world to see the men in black putting this sort of result in against the Australians. The Aussies who let us not forget are the second best side in the world, the side who crushed the hopes of Wales our great Northern Hemisphere hopes, and who will be facing up against the Lions next summer as the clear favourites.
The rest of us have some real catching up to do against the World Cup holders – a good place to start would be to start to follow the All Blacks less is more approach to attacking structure. Where many sides will have plans to attack certain areas to create space elsewhere – a commendable and sensible approach – the All Blacks retain a sense of that but have more freedom and, crucially, confidence to put their heads up and ignore that strategy, playing to where the space is, rather than playing a waiting game.
They also play a very simple brand of rugby. They kick it in their own 22, and in defence they spread out and don’t contest the rucks, biding their time until they get a whiff of a turnover. The chance of a turnover turns them into a furious rabble of jackals.
They do all of this by having such brilliant basics. They can all pass of either hand at pace, in front of the man not at or behind. They run at pace always, and they have absolute faith in one another’s ability to make their tackles.
What is curious about them, and what is wonderful from our point of view, is that they style can be copied by everyone, from England, to Leicester, to Rugby School. It is simply about nailing your basics.
That is the lesson to learn for all school players ahead of this season, with fitness, reliable tackling, accurate passing, and hard running you can achieve an awful lot in the game of rugby. Just ask the best side in the world.