'All Blacks already in the future of rugby' - Yachvili

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    24 Nov 2016     Getty Images

Former French halfback Dimitri Yachvili, now a sports consultant, talked to L'Equipe about the truth behind the clichés surrounding the All Blacks and said that throughout a great white shark's life its teeth were renewed without it noticing, and that allowed it to stay at the top of the food chain.

It was the same with the All Blacks as they demonstrated after losing Dan Carter, Richie McCaw, Ma'a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock et al.

Wing Julian Savea was now the wing by whom all others were measured while Beauden Barrett had moved out of Carter's shadow and loose forwards like Ardie Savea, Jerome Kaino and Sam Cane covered the loss of McCaw.

And then there was the style the All Blacks had developed during 2016.

The adage that former All Black, former provincial coach and national selector Charlie Saxton had developed that the ball moves faster than the man was still relevant in Test rugby and was something the All Blacks had made a conventional part of their play, to the point of perfection.

"They practice a complete game where all players, from one to 15 are involved in the same way. They have physical qualities, and especially technical qualities, that are above average and this helps them succeed. You see their forwards do things European three-quarters would not do," Yachvili said.

This was evident from the influence locks Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock had.

"The All Blacks can count on their front five to be very active. They have revolutionised the second line and they virtually play with five loose forwards who have the desire to run with the ball," he said.

The All Blacks did not just rely on their physicality to win. They so often came through in the last 20 minutes because of their ability in all-round play.

"What is truly impressive about the All Blacks is their technical skills," Yachvili said.

"This gives them a kind of insurance which allows them to play with a free spirit and without constraints. Their rugby is not based on the physical challenge like the South Africans. They know it is a technical play that will help them succeed rather than shock tactics," he said.

But the thought of completely 'unbridled rugby' was a myth. Their mastery allowed them to impose their rhythm and patiently build their game.

The individual skills of the players were such that whenever a space was created, it was utilised with pragmatism and efficiency.

"The New Zealanders are very professional in their approach. They always have a plan B, C or D. They adapt to all conditions whether it is the weather or the tactics of opposing sides.

"While we are still trying to catch up, they are already planning the rugby in 10 years. They study the new laws, they are always anticipating. And so it's easier for them to adapt. They are already in the future of rugby," Yachvili said.