It was in early 2012 that the All Blacks set themselves the goal of becoming the most dominant side in history.

It was never a goal that had objectivity in mind as the arbiter and nor did they feel it was something they could judge.

There was one sole anchor point in this objective. One sole, tangible, measurable achievement they felt would be important. And that was to win the World Cup in 2015.

The All Blacks have won the 2015 Rugby World Cup at Twickenham. Hear fromm the players that made history and how it happened.

If they could become the first team in history to win back-to-back to titles, that in itself would give them some sort of suitable grounding from which their claim could be assessed.


Now that they have done what no one else has done, the time to judge has arrived. Can they say they are the most dominant team in history? Does winning back-to-back World Cups bring that accolade?

Probably. But what has given this team their special place in history is their relentless desire to improve each test, each day, each week, each month, each year.

They have never settled into any kind of comfort zone. They have never wanted to settle for just being good - they have, individually and collectively, worked tirelessly and effectively to be great.

When they began their journey in 2012, the side was full of older players who had ticked every box in the game. They were world champions - a title which they had drained themselves to acquire.

All Blacks fans celebrate the team's third Rugby World Cup final victory in a 34-17 win over the Wallabies.

Typically athletes who had wanted something as much as the All Blacks wanted to win the 2011 World Cup, tend to be empty in the aftermath. They can't find the same drive or ambition and they slip from their peak to mediocrity in surprisingly quick time.

Many thought that might be the All Blacks' fate in 2012. But head coach Steve Hansen pushed various mental buttons and set clear expectations. He sat the likes of Dan Carter and Richie McCaw down and asked them whether they had the desire to still be better.

He did the same with the other senior players and when they all said yes, that they did, he enabled them to dig that bit deeper to find that bit more.

"Steve's lead the way in terms of the attitude of the team in what it is aspiring to do," said captain McCaw. "The standards that are kept are led from the top and it makes it easier to follow along.


"In 2012 after the last World Cup it would have been easy to fall into that year and live of what you had done previous but the standard was set straight back up high again. We were going to play with the world champion tag and deserve that each year and I think that has been the attitude.

"It was 12 months ago that the focus really came on what we wanted to do for this last six-seven weeks and the relentless desire to be better and keep improving and to the legacy of the All Blacks is led by Steve and the other All Blacks management."

Statistically, the All Blacks' record since 2012 is the best in any era of the game. They have played 54 and lost just three times. Within that run they enjoyed a perfect season in 2013 and are now unbeaten through 16 tests - a feat they have previously managed coming out of the last World Cup through to drawing with Australia in 2012.

But this last four years isn't defined by numbers as compelling as they are. The better measurement is the quality of their rugby and the nature of their performances.

The last three weeks are the perfect microcosm of the last four years. Since reaching the knockout rounds, the All Blacks have displayed all parts of their game and character.

There was the outrageous skill level against France. The deadliness of playing a brand of football that was built on set piece solidity and brutal physicality and iced by the
confidence of expression.

Against South Africa it was their mental strength; their resolve and tenacity to find a way back into the game and win those crucial plays. They had to believe, stay composed and patient and they did - as they have done on so many other occasions since 2011.

And then in the final, they showed a bit of everything. Physicality, determination, defensive brilliance, a destructive lineout, clever offloading, superb breakdown technique and reading and once again, depth of character.

The All Blacks talk of their triple threat game and that is the essence of why they are so good. They can play whatever style they need or want. They have the experience and mental strength to underpin it all and they have a remarkable two World Cup titles.

They set out to be the most dominant team in history in early 2012: they have duly arrived at their destination.