No team in world rugby will beat the All Blacks if they recreate the form that saw them annihilate France 47-3 in Lyon this evening.
The void between the All Blacks and every other rugby nation could not be greater and no number of superlatives could describe their performance against the side many consider to be the second-best in the world.
This match was effectively over when the New Zealanders ran down the tunnel at half-time with a 23-3 lead, surely prompting world rugbyâ€™s fraternity to ask: â€œHow good are these guys?â€
The hosts had absolutely no answer to their visitorâ€™s ability to counterattack from absolutely anywhere and in the end succumbed in an uncharacteristically mild manner.
The French seemed to be caught out by the speed and intensity with which the All Blacks started the match and it took just 5 minutes for Graham Henryâ€™s team to show why everyone is touting them as World Cup winners.
Carl Hayman had the better of Sylvain Marconnet all game and absolutely demolished him in the first scrum of the match, sending him crashing to the turf in a heap. Piri Weepu took the quick tap from the resultant free kick and slick passing saw Sitiveni Sivivatu cross for the opening score.
It was a case of lack of opportunism and poor decision making by the French. Damien Trailleâ€™s tactic to punt the up-and-under on the All Blacks back three failed and a backline that is usually dangerous, never found their stride.
On countless occasions the French conspired to make a hash of scoring opportunities when in the strike zone, although credit has to be given to the All Black defensive line who were impenetrable.
Hooker RaphaÃ«l IbaÃ±ez and his jumpers were comprehensively outclassed, as were the French loose forwards who had no answer to the multidimensional nature of New Zealands attack.Richie McCaw and Dan Carter rounded off the first half scoring.
The French cause was not helped by ill-discipline of their captain Fabien Pelous, who was sin-binned in the 24th minute for pulling down the lineout jumper.
The All Blacks were equally was clinical after the break, weathering an early onslaught before Conrad Smith and Joe Rokocoko each bagged a try. The former coming from good awareness when Dimitri Szarzewski spilled a pass, and the latter benefiting when Luke McAlister broke the defensive line then threw a ridiculous back-handed pass to the winger, whose performance was a throwback to his sensational rookie year.
France never looked like adding to a wobbly drop-goal by Florian Fritz early in the first half and tries by Sivivatu and McAlister capped a breathtaking performance that words simply can not describe.
Tries:Sitiveni Sivivatu(2), Richie McCaw,Dan Carter, Conrad Smith,Joe Rokocoko, Luke McAlister
France: 15 Julien Laharrague, 14 AurÃ©lien Rougerie, 13 Florian Fritz, 12 Yannick Jauzion, 11 Christophe Dominici, 10 Damien Traille, 9 Dimitri Yachvili, 8 Elvis Vermeulen, 7 Julien Bonnaire, 6 Thierry Dusautoir, 5 Pascal PapÃ©, 4 Fabien Pelous (captain), 3 Pieter de Villiers, 2 Dimitri Szarzewski, 1 Sylvain Marconnet.
Replacements: 16 RaphaÃ«l IbaÃ±ez, 17 Olivier Milloud, 18 Lionel Nallet, 19 RÃ©my Martin, 20 Jean-Baptiste Elissalde, 21 David Marty, 22 CÃ©dric Heymans.
New Zealand: 15 Leon MacDonald, 14 Joe Rokocoko, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Luke McAlister, 11 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Rodney Soâ€™oialo, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Jerry Collins, 5 Ali Williams, 4 James Ryan, 3 Carl Hayman, 2 Anton Oliver, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Neemia Tialata, 18 Jason Eaton, 19 Chris Masoe, 20 Byron Kelleher, 21 Ma’a Nonu, 22 Malili Muliaina.