New Zealand silence doubters

New Zealand wing Julian Savea (right) pushing aside France's Noa Nakaitaci en route to scoring his second and his team's fourth try on Saturday.
New Zealand wing Julian Savea (right) pushing aside France's Noa Nakaitaci en route to scoring his second and his team's fourth try on Saturday. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

CARDIFF • New Zealand coach Steve Hansen, whose team had been under fire for their unconvincing early performances at the Rugby World Cup, said he hoped his team's 62-13 rout of France on Saturday would silence the doubters.

The All Blacks went through the pool phase unbeaten but questions were raised about their tactics after they struggled to produce their best in every match.

Hansen, however, said the team's tactics in the early rounds were all part of a masterplan he hopes will end with his team retaining the title they won four years ago.

"When you come to the World Cup, you come with a plan and we've had one," he told a news conference at the Millennium Stadium following the biggest-ever World Cup quarter-final win on Saturday.

"We've trusted what we wanted to do and tonight was a reflection of where we're at."

New Zealand's nine-try demolition was by far the team's best performance of the tournament.

The All Blacks dominated every facet of the match, both in the forwards and the backs, to reinforce their status as favourites to win the Webb Ellis Cup.

"It was a pretty special performance," Hansen said. "There's a difference between pool play and knockout play and that obviously creates an edge in itself. If you don't turn up, you go home."

For his opposite number Philippe Saint-Andre, it was not just his last match at this World Cup but also his final game in charge of France.

The former French captain was jeered and he said he took a large part of the blame for the rout.

"I must take a lot of it," said Saint-Andre, who will be replaced by Guy Noves after compiling the worst record of any French coach of the past quarter century. "I have had a lot of blows over the last four years."

He has won just 20 matches against 23 defeats and two draws and the French team flew back yesterday to a negative media welcome.

Sports daily L'Equipe ran a headline "Total fiasco" for Les Bleus.

Thierry Dusautoir's position as captain must now be under threat while fly-half Frederic Michalak yesterday called an end to his international career.

"It's a sad end but my body can't respond anymore," the 33-year-old, who left the pitch with a thigh injury after 11 minutes at the Millennium Stadium, said.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 19, 2015, with the headline 'New Zealand silence doubters'. Print Edition | Subscribe