Of all their rich bounty of trophies, the latest honour bestowed on the Rugby World Cup-winning All Blacks is the tribute which best illustrates their extraordinary consistency.

Feted in Berlin as team of the year at the Laureus World Sports Awards, Richie McCaw's side beat off some formidable opposition.

They were better, the judges agreed, than NBA champions Golden State Warriors, the Mercedes Formula One team, the Great Britain Davis Cup tennis team and two soccer heavyweights - European club giants Barcelona and women's world champions, the United States.

Since 2012, the year after they won their second World Cup, the All Blacks have played 54 tests, losing just three.

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Within that run they enjoyed a perfect season in 2013 and are now unbeaten through 16 tests - a feat they previously managed coming out of the last World Cup.

Every time they play, their opponents want to trip them up. And virtually every time the All Blacks have conjured a way to get home.

Since the game's rulers created an annual world ranking system in 2003, the New Zealand team has been number one 10 times. When they weren't number one, they were number two.

In any sport, the All Black record is phenomenal.

In the modern era, golfer Tiger Woods shaped a similar dominant stretch when he held the number one spot for 13 years.

But he has fallen a long way, and it is simply inconceivable that the All Blacks would ever tumble so far. Their fans would never forgive them.

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