There is no doubt that one of the major issues at this Rugby World Cup is the humidity which is making handling difficult and in some cases making matches difficult to watch.

The Scotland v Samoa match in Kobe was a terrible spectacle and France v USA in Fukuoka wasn't much better. But while the All Blacks received criticism in some quarters for their at-times mistake-ridden display during the 63-0 victory over Canada in Oita, they got much more right than wrong and a remarkable statistic mentioned in passing by coach Steve Hansen should serve to put things into context.

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In attempting to play at pace and tempo here in Japan, the All Blacks couldn't have wished for much more ball against Canada; in fact they handled it 400 times, more than in any other test.

Given that amount of possession and the extent to which they are attempting to stretch defences via offloads and quick passes, it probably wasn't surprising that they dropped it more than they usually would. Hansen described the ball as being like a piece of soap due to the condensation on the grass and the sweat coming from the players. One revealed to the Herald recently that he lost 2kg of sweat in one training session.


"Obviously we want to improve on it but you can't do any more than train with a wet ball which we've been doing the whole time we've been here," Hansen said.

"It's incredibly difficult. You've got someone smashing you when it's slippery like a piece of soap, you just have to accept that from time to time you're going to drop it.

"We handled the ball 400 times and only dropped it I think 12 times. Normally on average we'll have four knock-ons in a game. In this game we had five.

Lock Scott Barrett was one of the few All Blacks to have trouble handling the ball against Canada. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Lock Scott Barrett was one of the few All Blacks to have trouble handling the ball against Canada. Photo / Mark Mitchell

"We handled the ball more times than we've handled it in any other game, so you can make a big thing out of it or you can recognise that it's going to be difficult and we've just got to be a bit more secure with the ball when we're going into contact.

"A couple of our drops were guys looking to do the second thing first rather than catching the ball and then making the decision… I can think of a couple of times Patrick [Tuipulotu] did that. But by and large it was difficult, so we have to accept it's difficult and work as hard as we can to eliminate the mistakes."

After the Canada test Hansen said he was looking forward to seeing Beauden Barrett's GPS readings, but unfortunately the receiver doesn't work accurately under a roof so the data on how far and fast the fullback ran was not available. Barrett did carry the ball for 149m, however, and next best was his brother Jordie with 108m.

Rain is expected when the All Blacks play Namibia on Sunday, but not much is likely to change for them in terms of game plan, even allowing for Jordie's selection in the No 10 jersey.

They're committed to the fast show, with perhaps only hosts Japan, a potential quarter-final opponent, showing the same ability in the toughest of conditions.