| 20.6°C Dublin

All Blacks were mirror of McCaw

NEW Zealand's graciousness and humility in the afterglow of their World Cup victory spoke volumes. The best side in the world over the past four years deservedly won the greatest prize.

The All Blacks clearly played for each other and were led by an exceptional and inspirational captain in Richie McCaw. His team's performance in the final mirrored his own consistent appetite, courage and resilience under the most extreme pressure.

All the intangibles, matters often unseen -- the personalities, the relationships that are forged between the players -- always produce the great champion-winning sides. If this is not the most talented ever All Blacks team, it is certainly the most workman-like side they have ever produced.

I was delighted to eat my words in relation to the French effort. I was praying for a final worthy of a successful tournament and thankfully it came to pass.

Despite the division between coach and players, only the French could have the arrogance and self-belief to put those things behind them and play for each other on the day.

Their backrow effort was one of the best unit displays I have witnessed, but their whole squad deserves a huge amount of praise, considering the upheavals they must have endured as the competition neared its climax.

No one can deny the All Blacks their victory, but unfortunately the refereeing effort let down what was an open and honest contest from both sets of players.

I am a fan of Craig Joubert but his indecision at certain stages did the French no favours whatsoever.

In the second half, they deserved at least one or two more cracks at the posts for some blatant infringements.







Great

On reflection, the northern hemisphere sides can take great heart from the competition, as can some of the emerging nations.

The southern boys are still the top dogs but not to the extent that some may have envisaged.

The southern hemisphere sides, including the all blacks, showed a vulnerability that had not been exposed before to any large extent.

Maybe it was World Cup pressure, but the brittleness of the Aussies and the limited tactical approach of South Africa will surely give the home nations heart as they move forward.