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17th Oct 2015

5 talking points from New Zealand’s record win over France

All good for the All Blacks

Kevin Beirne

The knockout stages of the World Cup came to life as New Zealand put France to the sword.

While not as close a game, the second quarter-final boasted more moments of pure brilliance than South Africa’s tight win over Wales.

The All Blacks emphatically answered their critics with a 62-13 demolition of France in one of the most incredible knockout games to ever be played at a Rugby World Cup.

Here are the main talking points from the game.

New Zealand back to their best

They started off slow, but now we’re thinking that New Zealand were just trying to peak at the right time. In the past, the All Blacks have been guilty of steam-rolling through their pool, only to find themselves with nothing left to give in the knockout stages.

The defending champions looked well and truly back to their best as they put up a record score for a World Cup quarter-final against France. Every single New Zealander on the pitch was able to offload with ease, as they proved they are the most talented team in world rugby.

While it’s true that this France team are barely even a shadow of their former selves, you can’t just dismiss such a performance like this. The previous record win in a quarter-final was South Africa’s 42-14 win over Western Samoa in 1995.

The return of Dan Carter

Reports of Dan Carter’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. The Crusaders fly-half rolled back the years at the Millennium Stadium and put on an attacking masterclass.

After a rough start to the tournament, his distribution was flawless and his running was purposeful. It only took him 30 minutes to remind everyone why he is regarded by some as the greatest fly-half to have ever played the game.

It seems that the disappointment of missing out on the 2011 final has only driven him on to make sure he wins a World Cup for himself. His offload for Julian Savea’s first try was just sublime.

The end of an era for French rugby

For fans of the game, it is the saddest sight of all to see what has happened to French rugby over the last decade. While a final appearance in the last World Cup allowed the FRU to stick their heads in the sand and act like nothing was wrong, this was a slaughter reminiscent of Germany’s 7-1 thrashing of Brazil in the last football World Cup.

The French used to be a team who could frustrate and delight in equal measure. They gave us some of the greatest results in the history of the World Cup, but they are broken.

The influx of money and foreign players into the French game has killed the national team, and it threatens to do the same to England if the RFU do nothing about it.

Final spot still up for grabs…for refs too

Coming into the tournament, the general consensus was that Nigel Owens would be reffing the final so long as Wales did not make it. While that may well end up being the case, his performance has dipped somewhat over the last month.

His control over the game and his willingness to allow a free-flowing contest will probably see him picked, but he has been making a few odd decisions throughout the tournament.

Depending on who you ask, his decision to give Louis Picamoles just a yellow for “pushing” Richie McCaw’s face with his fist was either an example of great reffing or a sign of him buckling under the pressure.

Julian Savea equals try-scoring record

It’s a special occasion any time someone scores a hat-trick in a World Cup quarter-final. To do it in the manner in which Julian Savea did was something else altogether.

He has now equaled Jonah Lomu and Bryan Habana’s record for most tries in a single World Cup with eight. After beating France, New Zealand now have two games left as even a semi-final loss guarantees an appearance in the third/fourth place playoff.

With the way he is playing, you’d have to back Savea to break the record.