French rugby is paying the price for its "ridiculous" domestic club competition, says former All Blacks coach Sir Graham Henry.

Henry pinpointed the French Top 14 competition, which attracts some of the globe's best players and is seen by many as rugby's equivalent of football's English Premier League, as one of the contributing reasons to France's poor World Cup campaign which was ruthlessly ended by the All Blacks in this morning's quarter-final match in Cardiff.

And the 2011 World Cup-winning coach made it clear he was disappointed more top All Blacks are heading to French club rugby, including three of this morning's heroes in Dan Carter, Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith.

"The French competition in France (is) poor. Best paid professional competition in the world but can't produce rugby players because they're badly coached and they're overpaid," Henry told Newstalk ZB sports host Tony Veitch.


"It's ridiculous. Our guys, and I love them dearly, like Ma'a and Conrad and Daniel Carter and so on are going over there to play to get their old age pension and I totally tick all those boxes but they're playing in a competition which is ridiculous. It's all about sponsorship and television - they're just ruining French rugby.

"You saw that tonight. The French guys tried hard but they just weren't in the same class as our guys."

Henry was equally unimpressed with New Zealand's upcoming semifinal opposition South Africa who had to battle hard to overcome Wales and earn a spot in the final four of the tournament.

A stunning win was met with a muted response by the All Blacks this morning. Their brilliant rugby pleased them, allowed them satisfaction, but it didn't have coach Steve Hansen believing anything other than they are now in the semifinal. That was it as far as he and captain Richie McCaw were concerned: they are a game closer to what they came to do but it all starts again this week.

"Wales ran out of energy in the second half," he said. "South Africa controlled possession but struggled with the possession they had. They were too high, they struggled to get quick ball in the tackle, they ran into the tackle too late and were turned over a lot of the time. They should have won by a lot more but they didn't have the ability to turn that possession into points. It was only a bad error by a Welsh winger that enabled South Africa to win in the finish.

"They were average. I think South Africa has gone backwards. They've lost to Argentina, they've lost to Australia, they lost to New Zealand, they lost to Wales the last time they played them and they were lucky to win tonight. They're disappointing, quite frankly. They're far too one-dimensional, one-out rugby."