Alot of the commentators/critics of modern All Black rugby are former players, or are of an age that grew up with the All Blacks during the 70's and 80's. When you think of the current crop of TV commentators in New Zealand, the Grant Nisbitt's, Murray Mexted's, Stu Wilson's, Tony Johnsons etc etc of this world all fall into this category. Another one who most certainly falls into this category is Murray Deaker.
When you hear them talk, its as if the AB sides of those era's where somehow invincible, with the cry being "It didn't happen in our day!".
Bullshit! It most certainly did!
What we have seen since professional rugby started is a changing of the guard. Before 1992, South Africa in the record books was always our greatest foe. Their win/loss record against us was superior. They had the wood on us to put it bluntly. They won 2 test series in South Africa (1970 & 1976). However since 1992 and their readmittance into the international fold, their record against us is this:
Played : 22 NZ won : 15 SA won : 6 Drawn : 1
South Africa have proven that in the right conditions & right situation they are capable currently of beating us (normally has something todo with Jo'Burg!). But these occasions are few and far between. Very much like the Wallabies against us before there emergence.
Since 1992, I would hazard at a guess and say that Australia's win/loss record against the AB's currently is slightly superior.
The changing of the guard...our greatest foe has been reversed. Gone are South Africa, bring on the Wallabies.
When you compare the current era to the past nothing much else has changed. We still beat Ireland, Scotland, Wales. England are still capable of beating us at Twickenham, but rarely do. We remain undefeated against a host of smaller nations whom seem capable occasionally of beating all the aforementioned teams in this paragraph. Perhaps more important than any of these teams is the British Lions, whose record against the AB's is abysmal.
Which brings is to the French! The French since the 1970's have always been capable of beating the AB's, so nothing has changed there!. We didn't play the French much in the 70's, but we lost a test too them in Paris in 1972, again in 1977 (in a 2 match series), and they won in the Bastille Day test in Auckland in 1979. Anyone who remembers the 1984 series against them in NZ will recall the AB's where extremely fortunate to win that series. They beat us in Nantes in 1986, they won the series in NZ in 1994 (with Sean Fitzpatrick as captain), they won another test in France in 1994(5?).
So basically I think alot of the people who have been whinging and complaining about the modern day player should get off their high horses for a second, take a step back, and reconsider their perceptions of the past.