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NZ's win a triumph for all rugby

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Lynn McConnell     09 Nov 2015     Getty Images

That was the view of the man who guided his Munster team to a famous win over the All Blacks in 1978, Tony Ward, the former Ireland Test first five-eighths.

Writing in the Irish Independent Ward said while sports fans always yearn for the big upset, and he had enjoyed Japan's win over South Africa in the first round, he drew the line in the final and wanted the world's strongest rugby nation, World Cup holders and the perennial No.1 ranked team, to win.

And while he had nothing against the Wallabies, or the memories of how great France and Wales once were, it was the All Blacks who deserved the win.

"Yes, they are obsessed with their rugby in New Zealand and to tour there whether as a player, journalist or supporter is akin to life in a rugby bubble. It is the Valleys of Wales, the Borders of Scotland, the deepest South of France and Limerick all combined, but by way of a passion and intensity, much greater than the sum of that again," Ward said.

"Sometimes on tour, whether North Island or South, you have to pause and come up for air. It can be uncomfortable at times but a trip to the land of the 'Long White Cloud' leaves you in no doubt as to what rugby nation is the oval ball equivalent to football for Brazil.

"They play the game hard but skilfully, with the emphasis entirely on the latter. They have set a new bar this time by recording back-to-back wins and the first of their three successes to date outside of New Zealand," he said.

New Zealand sides did the simple things well, more often and better than everybody else.

"They get the basics right in ensuring primary possession but beyond that, they take chances – measured chances.

"They off-load in and beyond the tackle and support from depth in numbers, each one expecting the ball to come his way. I don't mean that to sound overly simplistic but I defy anyone to suggest anything different or alien to this well proven modus operandi," he said.

While the latest team was a golden side and changes in personnel would be required there would be no let-up, the players would be replaced and normal transmission would resume.

"From the cradle to Twickenham, it's how they learn the game from earliest introduction and how it manifests itself through the various competitions feeding into ITM, Super Rugby and ultimately the All Blacks.

"The World Cup win wasn't just for New Zealand but for the game in general.

"Despite their incredible success, they are a humble people so well represented by their rugby playing super stars, who see themselves as anything but that.

"Note the way that they, to a man, handle themselves in media interviews. Look, too, at the post-match celebrations in the dressing room. Yes they are euphoric, singing and dancing but still TV and radio interviews are taking place minus beer or champagne being poured all over the interviewee whoever he be.

"That defines a class, a discipline and respect that manifests itself in how they play for themselves and for each other.

"The All Blacks have enhanced their reputation and that of the game at this fantastic World Cup," Ward said.

While they had some big men like Brodie Retallick, Samuel Whitelock and Julian Savea, there was still room for smaller players like Aaron Smith, Dan Carter and Nehe Milner-Skudder and 'a compact battleship' like Nonu.

"The sun has come up and thanks to New Zealand, rugby can remain a game for all shapes and sizes," Ward said.