History provides a powerful reminder and it is all the All Blacks will need to ensure they don't get carried away with last night's impressive 20-6 World Cup semifinal win over Australia.

Few could imagine France living with an All Blacks side as dominant as they were against the Wallabies. They were excellent in every facet in winning a match many believed was essentially the World Cup final.

But if coach Graham Henry needed to use any tool as motivation, he would only need to mention the years 1999 and 2007. France weren't supposed to beat the All Blacks in each of those occasions... but they did.

"We just have to come down from this game first," Henry said, "and that's going to take a couple of days. It was a huge game of rugby.


"We have a lot of history of France in the Rugby World Cup so we respect them. It's going to be another big game next week."

For captain Richie McCaw, it's important there is a next week. There was always the prospect of the playoff for third and fourth but no team wants to be involved in that.

"There's a lot of respect playing France," McCaw said. "We have has some good times and not so good times [against them]. It will be pretty easy for the boys to get their feet on the ground and get ready.

"France will back themselves. It's all on. I haven't really had much time to think about it but as we move into tomorrow, there will be a fair bit of excitement."

There will also be a great sense of satisfaction. The All Blacks were clinical, ruthless, efficient and effective. From number 1 through to 15 and beyond, they played their part.

The scrum was dominant, lineout effective and their work at the breakdown muscular. Their defence was outstanding and the work of the back three under the high ball masterful. Time and again the Wallabies heaved the ball into the night sky and time and again Cory Jane and Israel Dagg in particular claimed it. It meant Australia couldn't mount any pressure from second-phase ball and build and momentum.

"Our back-field play was special," Henry said. "They didn't drop a high ball tonight and some of it was spectacular stuff.

"But I thought it was an outstanding performance. I thought the boys were heroic out there. Everyone did their job superbly."


The crowd could sense victory about eight minutes from the end when Brad Thorn emerged from a tighthead roaring. For McCaw, that moment didn't come until much later.

"As I was packing down for the last scrum I was looking at [Australia halfback] Will Genia and he said, `well done'. But it's job done for this week. We have given ourselves a chance now and that's what we wanted to do. We have given ourselves a chance in a final."

And what a great chance they will have to overcome 24 years of history.