The manner of New Zealand's demolition of Australia in the Rugby World Cup semifinal was an object lesson to all sides around the world.

The good news for the rest is that countries like South Africa can retain for all time their intensity, their enormous commitment in the set pieces and at the breakdown.

After all, that was, in essence, where the semifinal was won and lost. The Wallabies just couldn't handle all that power which kept coming at them and never stopped.

But here's the less good news for the South Africans and other teams in world rugby. You just have to have a game outside your No 10.


You can't play the modern game with only 10 players, the rest used really only to tackle, defend and catch the high kicks downfield. England and Ireland, too, take note.

It is New Zealand's firepower up front and outside the forwards which is winning them this 2011 World Cup.

They will take the trophy in Sunday's final for this very good reason: they are a complete side. Theirs is a game predicated on power, but also on touch and finesse when required. They possess all options.

That is the difference. Under Peter de Villiers, the Springboks were an incomplete side. Still powerful up front, to be sure, but largely deficient outside the scrum because there was never the same intensity or attention to detail on the backs' play as there was on the forwards'.

This glaring failing came home to roost in the quarter-final of this tournament when the South Africans had the Australians there for the taking but couldn't finish them off because they lacked the accuracy of execution, a quality earned only through much hard work and practice, required to finish.

That has been the difference between New Zealand and South Africa at this World Cup. On Sunday night, New Zealand spent the first five minutes camped in Australian territory and finally broke them through a dynamic, angled run from fullback Israel Dagg, a searing outside break and brilliant offload that put Ma'a Nonu over.

South Africa haven't played with that sort of conviction behind the scrum for years because neither Jake White nor Peter de Villiers bothered very much about the backs. How many passes did Bryan Habana get in the 2007 World Cup? One, wasn't it? And the moment he got it, he was smashed into touch by the drift defence. What scandalous misuse of a glorious talent.

Just imagine how Habana would be playing in this New Zealand outfit.


The New Zealanders utilise every opportunity to attack out wide, ball in hand. It is one of the key reasons why they will win this World Cup on Sunday. What is more, they thoroughly deserve to win it for they have stayed true to their belief in the creed.

Part of the reason for that is that they have embraced the whole canvas offered on a rugby field, not concentrated merely on a small portion of it. They have given huge commitment up front but freed the ball to allow their threequarters time and space to attack.

There's the word, attack.

So hard for the French to do in their semifinal but so natural to the New Zealanders ...

Under this coaching regime, New Zealand have played some superb 15-a-side rugby since 2007. I count it a privilege to have seen a lot of it in many corners of the world, such as Christchurch, Cardiff, London, Cape Town and Johannesburg.

They have never sacrificed their dedication to immense power and technical excellence up front in every phase. Like the watchmaker, precision is their raison d'etre. But nor have they deserted the other half of their game, that of the backs.

But playing in this way is a philosophy, a mentality. The Springboks haven't had that mentality for too long now.

New Zealand have been for the better part of four years the best side in world rugby because they are the most complete side.

Other countries may, on occasions, have a part of their game but never the whole.

That is why they will win this World Cup on Sunday night and why they will richly deserve to do so.

The All Blacks are also the cleverest, smartest team around. For most of the past four years and certainly at this World Cup, they have had the referees singing their tune like canaries.