New Zealand's reign at the top of world rugby is well and truly over, yet by the end of the World Cup it was looking more impressive than ever.

The overwhelming trend on the international rugby stage is this: there isn't a trend of success. Teams who are up one week are completely down the next.

It is so stark that playing badly can almost be seen as a good thing, if you get the timing right. New World Cup champions South Africa's plodding semifinal effort against Wales did them no harm.

2019 Rugby World Cup: Talking points