Sometimes you have to see the big picture before the true story emerges. So, have a look at this big picture and let it tell you this true story: New Zealand has been blessed by more than a century of All Black dominance.

Each black brick on the interactive graphic you see here represents an All Black test victory; every splash of colour a defeat. Grey represents a draw. It is not a particularly colourful wall, is it?

During the World Cup we rugby fans, casual and committed alike, work ourselves into an anxiety-induced lather, it is worth remembering that the All Blacks have become standard-bearers for sporting success not just in New Zealand, but everywhere that rugby carries any resonance.

Perception has a habit of clouding this reality. Every test loss is treated as a calamity of biblical proportions, a point reinforced at times by the players.

Advertisement

Read more: Amateur or professional, the All Blacks still dominate

"Sort of desolate, decayed, the smell of - I don't want to dramatise it - but death, you know. That is what it feels like, no-man's-land, and it is not a nice place to be," said Anton Oliver after the 2007 quarter-final defeat to France.

But it is not just defeat that comes with a stench. Even winning isn't always enough - most victories come with an extensive menu of must-do-betters.

Meanwhile, the All Blacks just keep on winning more games than anybody else.

Think about some of the colours missing from this wall: the navy blue of Scotland, the sky blue of Argentina, the green of Ireland. Whenever we beat these countries it is dismissed as par for the course.

The All Blacks have a new captain against Namibia in their second Rugby World Cup match, Sam Cane steps into the shadow of Richie McCaw as Gregor Paul and Patrick McKendry give their expert opinion and analysis.

"If we have to play against New Zealand, I'll explain it like this," accomplished Argentine captain Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe once said. "To win, their 15 players have to have diarrhoea and we will have to put snipers around the field shooting at them and then we have to play the best match of our lives."

Because of this overwhelming expectation, success is seldom stopped and savoured.
"We've become immune to success," says national sports tsar Peter Miskimmin. "We've mainstreamed it."

The Sport NZ chief executive was talking about the country's sporting stocks in general, but has no doubt that the All Blacks are the driving force behind it.

Advertisement

"What the All Blacks do, in winning 80 per cent [sic] of their games over history, is extraordinary and I'm not sure they have really got the credit they deserve for it," says Miskimmin.

When you consider that the Dallas Cowboys have the highest winning percentage in NFL history with 57.4, and the Kangaroos league team, with less competition, are running at 67 per cent, it only amplifies the fact the All Blacks have maintained ridiculously high standards for the majority of their history.

Rather than shy away from the responsibility, the modern-day All Black is taught to embrace the pressure. They learn to live with incredible expectation at a time when social media has meant everybody with a phone has a platform for their opinion and analysis; when the silent majority is so often drowned out by the noisy minority.

What this interactive shows is that there are just a few pockets where the All Blacks dominance has been challenged, most regularly by South Africa and most spectacularly by Australia during the John Eales era.

These show up as green and gold on the interactive and they look almost incongruous. Elsewhere there is a splash of white, the red of Wales and the Lions (though not for a while), and Les Bleus... but a whole lot of black.

"The gains that should have been made [by other countries] haven't happened," said former All Black Justin Marshall. "We always seem to be that bit more innovative than anybody else. Maybe it's those things that are instilled in us that can't be measured, like pride and legacy."