BBC BLOGS - Bryn Palmer
« Previous | Main | Next »

Pressure mounts on New Zealand to end wait for World Cup win

Post categories:

Bryn Palmer | 07:57 UK time, Wednesday, 7 September 2011

The shadow that appears over the Land of the Long White Cloud every four years is looming large.

Even more so this time, since the potential for further pain and humiliation is right on their doorstep.

A nation of four million at the end of the earth expects their status as the world's number one rugby team to be belatedly adorned with a second World Cup victory, 24 years after the first. Not too much to ask, is it?

Graham Henry has the burden of a nation on his shoulders. Photo: Getty

"There is obviously a huge expectation among the New Zealand public for the All Blacks to win the World Cup," says Graham Henry, the coach charged with delivering that goal. "That's right and proper and I've not got a problem with that. They've gone a few years without that happening so I guess every time it does not happen, the expectation gets higher. It's a positive, not a negative. We understand that and accept it."

Accepting it is one thing, but can they cope with the relentless pressure, the endless scrutiny, the constant jibes about their tendency to always 'choke' at World Cups?

Is it even a fair accusation? The perception is that New Zealand are always the best team coming into the tournament and yet don't win it. The reality is that of the five editions since their victory in the inaugural one on home soil in 1987, they were probably the best team entering it only on two occasions, in 1995 and 2007.

"Those are the only two we should have won but we didn't," believes All Black legend Zinzan Brooke, a member of the 1987 winning squad, who played in the 1991 semi-final loss to Australia and the 1995 final defeat by South Africa. "In 1995 we definitely should have won, but we weren't good enough in 1991 or 1999. We certainly were not good enough in 2003."

In 1995, there is no doubt some senior All Blacks were affected by illness on the day of the final, even if the claims of poisoning by a South African waitress called 'Suzie' stretched the boundaries of credibility. Ultimately they were beaten by a superbly combative Springboks team fuelled by the emotion of unifying the 'Rainbow Nation' in the presence of Nelson Mandela.

In 2007 you could say they were unlucky against France - losing Dan Carter to injury, the referee missing a forward pass in the build-up to the winning try - but ultimately they didn't have the wherewithal to conjur a match-winning drop-goal, something apparently anathema to All Black instincts, despite their importance in the outcome of the 1995, 1999 and 2003 tournaments.

Another New Zealand legend, Jonah Lomu, who holds the record of 15 World Cup tries from the 1995 and 1999 tournaments, rejects the idea those and other All Blacks sides 'choked', pointing out New Zealand's dominance in Tests outside the tournament is no basis on which to judge their favouritism for the big one.

"Everyone looks at the World Cup and judges it by the end-of-year Tests or the Tri-Nations but they are not the World Cup," he says. "The World Cup is a different kettle of fish. It is a tournament for six weeks. You are living in each other's pockets. There are certain things you can't control. If you manage to keep a happy camp through the tournament, you are well off. If someone loses form, that can also affect things. These elements can tip the scale towards you losing. There is no break in a World Cup. The pressure is on every week."

According to Lomu, the key to whether the class of 2011 can deliver the prize their ability undoubtedly merits, or whether they follow their predecessors into World Cup ignominy, will be their ability to 'tune out' from the hype and the fever pitch the rest of the nation will reach over the course of the tournament.

"Six weeks is a long time to keep the mind fresh," the gentle giant notes. "You won't be able to get any fitter or stronger in that period, you can only maintain fitness. But you want to keep fit mentally and I think it is all going to come down to that, keeping your mental focus, being able to switch on and switch off. I think that is the key component of winning the World Cup."

So will it be any different this time? Certainly if we look at some of the characteristics of previous World Cup-winning sides, the All Blacks tick most of the boxes.

Experienced? You could say. The last three World Cup-winning sides boasted, respectively, going into the tournament, 560 caps (Australia, in 1999), 565 caps (England, 2003) and 602 caps (South Africa, 2007).

New Zealand's likely first-choice side now have 842 caps between them, with another couple of hundred on the bench. They have eight players with 50-plus caps, led by All Black record-holders Richie McCaw and Mils Muliaina (98 each), with a couple more in Conrad Smith and Jimmy Cowan poised to hit the 50-mark.

Only South Africa, who can also boast 800-plus caps in their first-choice line-up, bear comparison among the other leading nations at this World Cup. (Interestingly, Ireland (637 caps), France (630), Wales (585) and England (553) also boast a level of experience in their side close to previous winners in the professional era.)

Half a dozen contenders for a world XV? Definitely. Muliaina, Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Dan Carter, Tony Woodcock and McCaw would certainly be in that category, with arguably one or two more.

Ability to grind out wins under pressure? A lot has been made of the recent Tri-Nations decider in Brisbane, as if this was proof positive that the All Blacks can't win tight games when the stakes are high. Rewind 12 months. They clinched the Tri-Nations title by coming from behind with two tries in the last two minutes to beat South Africa in Johannesburg, and then came from 22-9 down with 13 minutes left to beat Australia in Sydney and complete a historic clean sweep. The manner of those victories did not suggest a team that buckles under pressure, rather one that thrives on it.

New Zealand are looking to lift a 24-year cloud. Photo: Getty

No pain, no gain? England's 2003 World Cup winners all talk about the valuable lessons learned from painful defeats in Grand Slam deciders and the 1999 World Cup, and how they carried that experience into the tournament that ultimately defined them as players.

If Anton Oliver's memorable description of the All Blacks dressing room - "desolate, decay, the putrid smell of, I don't know, death" - in the aftermath of their 2007 quarter-final defeat by France is anything to go by, then Muliaina, Carter, Woodcock, McCaw, Ali Williams, Andrew Hore and Isaia Toeava, all present on that occasion, will not have to delve too deep into the hurt locker for any further motivation.

"We are pretty experienced this time," notes McCaw. "Most of us have been through at least one World Cup and we know what it takes."

Battle hardened? Unlike the last two tournaments, New Zealand should have at least one tough pool game before the knock-out stages, with France in their group. Tonga, in Friday's tournament opener at Eden Park, should also give them a decent workout in the physicality stakes.

The Auckland venue, where they will also face the French, and play their quarter-final, semi-final and final if they go all the way, should be a source of home comfort. The All Blacks haven't lost there since 1994.

They will be damned if they don't win it, and probably damned with faint praise if they do.

"The critics will be out saying, 'Yeah, New Zealand won it but they can never win outside of their own country'," according to Brooke.

But right now, the country would probably settle for that.

Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    If we (England) can't win it, then I hope that New Zealand do, otherwise it will be back to the Land of the Long White Face. My concern is that 842 caps implies that some of their players are almost past it.

  • Comment number 2.

    Its strange that the Kiwi's themselves only think they should have won in '95' and '07' yet everyone else says they should have won in '91' '99' and '03' IMHO it would of been a shock if anyone but England or Australia won in '91', '99' & '03'

    I'm still not 100% convinced that they were favourites in '07' as there was plenty of international competition and I thought anyone from France, Ireland, New Zealand or South Africa could have won it then given their previous good form.

    As it was Ireland choked in the group stage, New Zealand came up against a French team with a point to prove to their home fans after losing the opening game of the tournament to Argentina and South Africa were the only consistent team throughout the tournament.

    This only leaves '95' where they SHOULD have won it.

  • Comment number 3.

    It can be easy to forget that the All Blacks are not always the best team going into the Rugby World Cup finals ( and in fact Laurie Mains record pre 1995 was a bit iffy ).

    With each failure ( and really this is a relative term ) comes another layer of analysis and introspection. Another series of reasons why the All Blacks did not win and another list of reasons why this time it must be their year.

    Simply put, the All Blacks are capable of beating, and have recently beaten, all of the prime contenders for the World Cup title.

    The enduring mystery is why this hasn't manifested itself in winning the World Cup at least once since 1987.

    We approach this next few weeks more in hope than in expectation.

  • Comment number 4.

    In McCaw and Carter, New Zealand have had two of the greats of the modern game. This is, however, their last shot at this trophy. The problem for New Zealand is not their first team, which is superb. Nor is it really the backup for McCaw anymore, as Thomson has proved at least able backup. However, at 10, they have a problem. They alienated possibly the best running 10 of this generation (Nick Evans), and are going in to the game against Tonga with Slade on the bench. Is this good enough if Carter goes down?

    England have Wilkinson and Flood, Australia have Cooper and (if they'd picked him) Giteau, South Africa have Steyn and James and even Wales have Jones and Hook.

    If Carter stays fit, though, then I would back the best centre partnership in the world (Nonu and Smith) to do the damage.

  • Comment number 5.

    Any of the tri nations teams can win this world cup. All three have shown in the tri nations what it takes to win. SA look to be back to their stubborn grinding out games style of rugby. Australia have the forwards and backs to match NZ all over the park. I'd say AUS would have about the same amount of players in the world XV compared to NZ if you judged it on current form.

  • Comment number 6.

    I hate to say it, but I believe Australia go into this tournament as favourites. They are peaking just at the right time, whereas in the last two games the ABs have looked tired and disorganised. And I think the selectors have erred in leaving out Sivivatu and Gear and picking NO specialist wingers.

    That said, NZ are fully capable of winning. But another concern for me is, as pointed out above, that several players are near or at their use-by date. One of those - perhaps the most crucial - is McCaw. Yes, he's still a great player, but his on-field judgement is increasingly coming into question. For example, in the last test, NZ came out after half-time and played Plan B - and almost did enough to win. But by halftime the game was already gone; Plan B should have kicked in after 20-25 minutes... and that would have been McCaw's call. He failed to make it. To my mind he has become too focused on what the referee is doing and not enough on what the opposition is doing - so is losing touch with the game in terms of captaincy.

    It will be scant compensation if Australia win to know they've done it off the backs of half-a-dozen "lost" Kiwis - the mercurial Quade Cooper the best of them - but realistically I don't see anyone else challenging. If the final is NZ vs Aus, the only thing in the ABs favour will be the fact Australia have not beaten the ABs at Eden Park for the best part of 3 decades.

  • Comment number 7.

    Tom... how on earth have the NZRFU ailenated Nick Evans? Nick Evans chose to seeking a bigger wages packet rather than stay in NZ and fight for his place in the All Blacks.

  • Comment number 8.

    Believe George Gregan the good Aussie that he is summed it up in 2003 when in the closing stages at the match after a NZ error he uttered the immortal phrase which NZ will want to banish of "Four more years boys, four more years"

    NZ want to get this monkey off there back, as consistently in the top three nations in the world at rugby, yet have players in there team who have never seen NZ win the RWC.

    This should be the year when NZ win....

  • Comment number 9.

    The two tournaments they should've won were in 1995 and 2007. 1995 was a close game. SA upped the ante on the day and it took a drop goal to separate the two. In 2007 I don't think they can blame the ref entirely for the result. NZ didn't assert control in the forwards to grind out a win. Even when Carter went off injured, they still had Evans and McAllister to control the midfield. I really feel that Henry should've gone for an English style forwards game in the last 20 mins. Just to make sure they get the result. In the 2003 quarter against Wales, we had to go very negative just to make the semi. NZ should've done the same.

    I think this time they will win it (although my heart wants England to, but I think we'll be out in the semis). They've learnt their lesson from 2007 and I think that this time they will go all the way.

  • Comment number 10.

    NZ - bad winners, bad losers.
    AOBNZ (and Wales).

  • Comment number 11.

    I think New Zealand have been unlucky in some ways. In 1995 they played all the Northern Hempishere teams and thashed all of them comfortably. Lomu in particularly basically just jogged through the paper thin defences. In the final though they came up against a Boks team that could tackle and matched them physically (aided or not by the sickness in the AB camp) and they seemed to lose their way when Lomu was stopped. Even then they probably should have won it had Mertens not missed a drop kick in the final moments of full time.
    In 2007 they were the best team in the world and again comfortably made the quarters, but France play a style of rugby that will destroy anyone when it works and despite looking out of it they turned on the style and dodgy pass or not made the All Blacks look far from the world's best side.
    I do think though the All Blacks will win the tournament though and then the questions will turn to "Why do New Zealand only win the world cup at home"

  • Comment number 12.

    Personally I think the age thing can work in the ABs advantage. After all England weren't exactly young in 2003 (as the Australian press were very keen to point out). For a lot of the team this is it, no coming back in 4 years and they'll all know that. They could freeze I suppose but they've won enough tough games now that I don't think that will happen.
    The problem for NZ could be what happens next? If you build up a team with that experience then when they all go (and I bet some of them are already planning their retirement speeches) can you manage the rebuilding? England certainly couldn't.

  • Comment number 13.

    What to say??? The nice part of me recognises that New Zealand are the favourites and are long overdue a win and, barring the highly improbable event of an England win, it would be good for New Zealand if they could win! Share it around and all that!

    The evil part of me just goes "MMWWWWHHAAAAHHHAAAA! If the AB's lose again, they won't be only ones choking! I'll need resuscitating!

    Trying to make a sensible point...my observation would be that the AB's combine great skills with a playing tradition that makes defeat almost unthinkable. They always give it absolutely everything, and a bit more, to avoid defeat. Elsewhere, particularly in the N. Hemisphere defeat is generally regrettable rather than unbearable...except when it comes to the World Cup.

    As a result, teams make the ultimate effort and throw in everything, which in terms of physicality and intensity, tends to close the gap on the ABs who haven't got an extra gear when the chips are down. This sows the seeds of doubt and the rest is history.

    Here endeth the controversial statement. I still expect the All Blacks to win the cup!

  • Comment number 14.

    Don't think that NZ will have an issue rebuilding a team whether they win this time round or not. The wealth of talent in NZ rugby is still very very strong.
    The danger for them you could argue is that if they don't win this time around it could affect playing numbers attracted to the game in the future. But currently the game is in good health at the grassroots level thats for sure.

  • Comment number 15.

    I couldn't agree with BrucieB more. I honestly think the smart money will be on the Aussies to win the cup, especially in light of their awesome performance a few weeks ago in the final Tri-Nations game. It would be great for the AB's to lay their ghosts to rest and finally win the RWC after so long, however I think the weight of expectation from the home nation will be the tipping point, especially if they don't gain significant momentum by winning convincingly every single one of their pool matches. Either way this seems to be a deja vu topic of conversation every four years.

    Would love to see England get to the final, so its going to be an interesting few weeks to the knock out stages.

  • Comment number 16.

    I don't understand why rugby pundits and fans always focus on NZ!
    These guys are like the Harlem Globetrotters(Arsenal might be a better comparison) of the rugby world! Graham Henry's mindless nattering and complacency will once again be their downfall! When it comes to the crunch, they crumble like stale pastry and show their true colours, while sides like the French and South Africans rise to the occasion to beat adversity and eliminate issues they might have had within the team or their game!

    Australia and England are not strong and talented enough, respectively to see through the WC. A couple of injuries, loss of form or confidence to vital players for the Australians(Will Genia and Quade Cooper to be precise), should see their WC go up in flames and if England think Tuilagi is going to smash through a South African, New Zealand or French midfield, like he did against Wales, they better start thinking about contingency plan because he will be put down like a pitbull that's infected with rabies!

    New Zealand will do their haka(threatening to tear of the mask of nature to stare at the face of GOD) with pride, but despite being at home, they get the dark horses tag for me! They have a talented side, with sufficient sturdy experience, but having said all that, in the last WC, France passed them over like a jewish holiday, they had the same and you all know how that turned out.....

    Frankly, if this WC is won by any other country either than South Africa or France, I will be surprised, disappointed and probably angry!

    Sadly I don't have much hope for the rest of the teams in the tournament, the gap doesn't seem to be closing, unfortunately for Argentina, who were brilliant in 2007!

    I can't wait for Friday!

  • Comment number 17.

    Post 16 Vettel are you serious? You'd be surprised if it's won by anyone other than South Africa or France? Did you watch the Tri Nations or any of France's games this year? Very curious summary...

    New Zealand's to lose. Home advantage may take them over the line but Oz will be their main threat IMHO.

  • Comment number 18.

    'NZ - bad winners, bad losers.
    AOBNZ (and Wales).'

    You sad little English boy...

  • Comment number 19.

    The biggest challenge for the all blacks is have a game plan that fits around a tight edgy match. It is not the mentallity of the nation to grind out dull victories. I watched a re-run of the French and NZ match from 2007 and the French were so lucky at times to keep themselves ahead but NZ didn't know how to grind them down and the game moved away from free flowing stuff. The Aussies on the other hand do know how to do that and it is there confidence that is their biggest achilles heal. Whilst NZ undoubtaly are form favourites in normal test rugby the RWC is very different as Jonah points out. The consequence for a loss at the final stages of the RWC is so tough to account for and those teams that know how to play tight tough and not pretty rugby do the best normally as England have shown by reaching the last two finals. I have never seen NZ play this way and I fear the aussies may have moved into the favourites box with NZ sitting with SA, and England as second choice. If the Aussies could pick a country in which to win the RWC I think NZ would be top of the list and that may be a motivation no other nation has.

  • Comment number 20.

    Up to a couple of months ago, I was convinced it was NZ's to lose...now? still hot favourites but with Aus. coming up fast on the outside. SA, good team but getting on a bit now...France?...who knows?, great players but coach is ripe for the funny farm..England?...not enough experience and will do very well to get to the semi's. Wales?...always great to watch but too lightweight to go all the way, Ireland?...on the 6 nations form a certain semi-finalist, on recent form will be lucky to get out of the group.Scotland?...there final will be meeting and possibly beating England. Argentina?...could spring a suprise..I dont know enough about the rest to comment.
    Bring it on!!

  • Comment number 21.

    For me, it is a case of if Dan Carter makes the final NZ will probably win. The All Blacks are too good when he plays. If they pick up a couple of injuries in the group games then it may get a bit dicey, but I think they will play in and win the final.

    As for comments about the rebuild (14), I disagree, the second string who played against S Africa were not even fit to share the same dressing room as the superstars that are McCaw Carter Nonu. This is the golden generation of ABs.

  • Comment number 22.

    The AB should win it. Although I dont buy into the "choke" thing, they should have won it before other than 87.
    If this were any other team/sport and you had 5 opportunities to win, at least 2 of which you were clearly the favourite, and 3 of which you were a Top 3 choice, would you bet on at least 1 win?
    Most people would say that is safe money.
    The reason the "choke" tag gets applied is that although they have not always been the prohibitive favourite, they are certainly the best team over the last quarter century and they are certainly no worse than Top 3, every time they have shown up.
    The things that may go aginst them this year.
    1) No one played them tough in Pool matches. France will put out a second string side. NZ always goes at least a month before they get a true test in a tournament.
    2) A little self doubt from the recent 3N
    3) Home pressure. Where will they go to get away from it all?

  • Comment number 23.

    @18, childish remark yes, but I would hazard a guess that you think 'Anyone But England' is perfectly acceptable...

  • Comment number 24.

    Bets on Tonga and France beating the Kiwi's anyone?

    Highly unlikely I know. But, It could happen if they can't handle the pressure against the French and don't respect the Tongans enough.

    Realistically I actually think this time New Zealand will make the Semi Finals. Once your there anyone can beat anyone else. Winner will be the team that best deals with the pressure and is able to grind out a win.

  • Comment number 25.

    NZ's possible downfall could be the group being too easy.

    There are already rumblings about France putting out a weakened side against NZ for the pool game, and frankly who can blame them. They don't expect to win the game anyway, and all the better to catch them cold when it gets to the knock-out stage - as they have done in the past. So the NZ group might end up being too much of a walkover. Having said that, I'm still expecting them to win teh cup.

    Australia would be my favourites if it were simply a one-off game against NZ (or anyone else) but just not sure whether they have the experience and stamina to get through the whole 6 weeks.

    SA definitely past it, semis and no further. They've been playing the same game for a few years now - kick, wait for infringement, penalty - and I reckon they've been rumbled by the other top teams.

    Wales could go far - if they get through their group!

    Ireland looking shaky indeed at the mo' ... Either BOD works miracles or it's bye bye in the QF or even earlier...

    England could go to the final - they have the ability to beat France and Aus - but would lose heavily to NZ.

    Scotland potential dark horses to make the semis.

    Argentina sadly a shadow of their former selves.

  • Comment number 26.

    ... and France - who knows? They will certainly have ONE good game in the knock-out stage of the tournament.
    Unfortunately, if previous record is anything to go by, that one game will be the QF or the semi, not the final...

  • Comment number 27.

    "Australia and England are not strong and talented enough, respectively to see through the WC" - vettelmettle

    Ermm, sorry? Not enough talent? I bet Australia could fill half the world XV with a selection headache.
    As for England, their style of play suits a WC. They don't play pretty but they grind out results and as proven in history, you need a reliable kicker.

    France? Forget it. End of. They got an absolute hiding from the Wallabies at the end of tour last year. Record wasn't it?
    No-one is worried about France. As for SA, I think they need to shape up after the Tri-Nations bloodbath and de Villiers in charge I worry for them. Alas, they have history behind them in the WC, as do the Wallabies so they can't be ruled out.

    One of four teams will win this. NZ, SA, AUS, ENG

  • Comment number 28.

    The tone of this suggests that every New Zealander's future happiness depends on All Black's success. About 23 per cent. of NZ's population was born elsewhere (that's almost 1 million) with high immigration from the Pacific, Asia and Europe. Do all these people actively follow the All Blacks and feel broken individuals when the side doesn't win? Furthermore many 100,000s of NZ born people couldn't give a flying fig about the RWC and many actively enjoy seeing the All Black's lose. There are also vast numbers who have a far greater interest in soccer or the host of others sports which NZ sports people excel including basketball, netball, cricket, hockey, rowing, rugby league, athletics, swimming or have absolutely no interest in sport whatsoever. In a recent NZ herald survey almost 50% of people admitted to having NO interest in the RWC. I really wish the UK journalists would cease from regurgitating this tired trite generalisation.

  • Comment number 29.

    I hate to say this but:
    Talent is not the only thing that brings you world cup success.
    I would argue that NZ have had the best side in 2 or 3 of the world cups they missed, but when it comes to rugby there is an arrogance and self belief that both the Boks and the English carry. England should never have made the final in '07 and '91 and the boks have outdone their talent repeatedly.
    The Aussies carry this arrogance/self belief in many sports, but somehow not always in rugby where they sometimes see beating NZ as their final, but they've got more out of their talent than NZ in the history of the world cup.

    NZ are chokers, from 91 onwards in the big games when it mattered most they've not done it. The factors people mention like not having tough games in pool etc are there, but the truth is that they've lost mentally very often.

    They may believe they are the best players, but the arrogance of cup winners in the mold of Alex ferguson or England 03 the great Wigan RL teams has never been synonymous with NZ in the professional era.

  • Comment number 30.

    "claims of poisoning by a South African waitress called 'Suzie' stretched the boundaries of credibility"

    Why? Almost every player in the All Black's ranks was ill. Had the final been the day before there are serious questions as to whether the final could have been played. It was always the suggestion (and betting behaviour indicated this) taht Asian betting sydicates may have been involved. Given their involvement in manipulating cricket this is not beyond the bounds of possibility.

  • Comment number 31.

    "NZ are chokers, from 91 onwards in the big games when it mattered most they've not done it"

    You may be right but for me and many others every All Black game is a game that matters.

  • Comment number 32.

    If there is a northern hemisphere nation that deserves to win this RWC it is FRANCE, and some of their one-off successes in NZ indicate they certainly have what it takes.

  • Comment number 33.

    "f there is a northern hemisphere nation that deserves to win this RWC it is FRANCE"

    Why?

    As consolation for shipping 60 points against Australia a few months ago and losing to Italy in the 6N?

  • Comment number 34.

    BrucieB

    Who are these half a dozen lost kiwi's in the Australian team. Suggest you do a few background checks before making stupid assumptions which have usually be the preserve of the english and aimed at the AB's. Also suggest you take a look at the England squad.

  • Comment number 35.

    Davico

    I'd suggest there are approximately 500,000 lost New Zealanders in OZ or is it the West Island?

  • Comment number 36.

    I would not like to see the All Blacks win the World Cup

  • Comment number 37.

    pmatson

    That's nice to know.

  • Comment number 38.

    I would not like to see New Zealand win the world cup for the following reasons.
    1.The arrogance their media. Those of you that are familiar with New Zealand media will know that they are completely blinded to rugby outside New Zealand and especially like to slag off Northern Hemisphere rugby as most as they like to talk up New Zealand rugby. A certain Kiwi paper had a pop at England a few weeks ago regarding the amount of players England have that are not born in England. Pot calling the kettle black (no pun intended) as New Zealand have been poaching Pacific Island talent for as long as I can remember. The Kiwi media should start writing objective articles and need to realize that for all their Northern Hemisphere bashing a Northern Hemisphere team (England) has a better World cup record than them.
    To be continued

  • Comment number 39.

    Can they please ban the drop-goal. I positively hate to see matches won using it. It goes against the spirit of the game in my opinion.

  • Comment number 40.

    2. The immaturity of the All Blacks. In 1995 they proved to be very bad losers with their claims of food poisoning. All their moaning and crying they did over England's black kit. New Zealand do not have a patent on wearing black and should stop talking rubbish about disrespect as they don't seem to have a ounce of respect for Northern Hemisphere rugby. It was embarrassing to their country and even their politicians put in their own personal moans about it. England have a black kit, get over it New Zealand! The New Zealand media had the brass neck to tell that British and Irish media to stop moaning over the spear tackle on Brian O’Driscoll during the Lion’s test in 2005. At least this was something real to moan about (as it almost ended the career of probably the best center to ever play the game) unlike moaning about another team wearing the same colour as you. TBC.

  • Comment number 41.

    New Zealand need to back England in this WC.
    If you look at the tables and fixtures it looks as if a lot will depend on the English performance. If most of group stages go as expected, it will be QF Eng vs France, which I believe England should win (unless the French do to us what was done to NZ 2007, but their new 'Anglo-style' of playing suits us even more) then Eng vs Aus in semis. I think England can beat Aus (we destoyed them in our last meet) especially if NZ home crowd are behind us in that game as Eng would realy struggle in a Final against NZ.

  • Comment number 42.

    fallingTP

    It was a reference to the actual Wallaby squad for this WC. In which case not sure of your point if you have any clue. Suggest if you have such a chip about kiwis leaving NZ for better jobs and to improve their lives you have a chat with those doing it or better yet the NZ govt.

  • Comment number 43.

    3. Favorable refereeing decision. I firmly believe that the All Blacks get so many favorable decisions from referees in the same way Man Utd do in football. Particularly in the breakdown where McCaw has made a career of deliberately slowing down play without punishment. It’s about time the referees starting punishing them as much as they punish other teams. Then we might see how good the All Blacks really are.

    I would be interested to read if anyone disagrees with my above points.

  • Comment number 44.

    Davico it was a joke.

    pmatson boy do you have a chip on your shoulder

  • Comment number 45.

    "In 1995 they proved to be very bad losers with their claims of food poisoning. "

    Myth. It was not mentioned by the All Balck camp. They did not want to make excuses. The story broke through media investigation. It was a fact; not an excuse.

  • Comment number 46.

    As England won´t win it, I suppose the main thing is that the Aussies don´t win it. So, what the heck, stand up you All Blacks and do your funky thing ( is it called the watusi or the hakka, always get those two mixed up)

  • Comment number 47.

    If it was just about the players you couldn't look any further than the three SH teams (with France/England/Ireland as outside bets). But it is not. You also have to factor in the coaches and the depth of the squads.

    When you look at the coaches there is absolutely no way that the French or Boks can win. Both their coaches are stark raving mad and don't have the respect of thier players! Johnno doesn't have the coaching experience or back room staff (something which hopefully will be resolved in time for 2015).

    The NZRU were castigated when they reappointed Graham Henry after 2007 but I think it could be the one thing that helps them win it. The players felt the sting after 07, but I beleive Henry felt it even more. He was always very arrogant before 2007 and this led him to make stubborn (and often incorrect) decisions. Anyone who watched the '01 Lions tour would probably agree. But since '07 he has added the ability to listen to his players and coaches to his undoubted coaching accumen. It could well see them home (if Dan Carter stays fit).

    As for Australia, Dingo Deans is a great coach and has done wonders with the young Australia side with a weak pack that he inherited. They can now compete up front with the best and have a back line that would have Serge Blanco and Phillipe Sella purring. There's just one problem though.

    They don't have a decent goal kicker...

  • Comment number 48.

    "He was always very arrogant before 2007 and this led him to make stubborn (and often incorrect) decisions"

    Yep it's hard to warm to the guy but he does seem to exact loyalty from his players and creates what seems to be good team unity. He lacks warmth as an individual and somewhat epitomises the stereotypical conservative NZ rugby administrator which has turned so many off the game in my homeland (going back to the fissure in 1981).

  • Comment number 49.

    If Australia were to win it though, do you think the NZ government would ever allow Dingo Deans back into the country?

  • Comment number 50.

    NZ deserved or should have won in 95 and 07. Rubbish, they lost which means they did not deserve to win anything. They got their tactics wrong and did not have the ability to adapt when things were not going there way.

    You could however go the other way and say that NZ did not deserve their 87 triumph as South Africa were not involved in the tournament. I think the moral of the story here is who ever did won were deserved winners as they beat everyone in front of them.NZ would do well to remember that.

  • Comment number 51.

    To fallingTP. I've come up with three valid points on why I do not want the All Blacks to win the World Cup. To counter them the best you could do is to accuse me of having a chip on my shoulder. I can assure you I don't have a chip on my shoulder regarding the All Blacks. If you are going to respond back to me at least try and come up with some valid counter points. Your inadequate response leads me to believe that you agree with my above comments.

  • Comment number 52.

    lorus59 - why? It is a skill, a perfectly valid and difficult one to perfect. Oh and if you do mention JW and 2003, think back to De Beer in 1999, 5 of them. Is it drop goals in general or just that last decisive one that is the problem?

  • Comment number 53.

    I cant wait for this tournament to start - the 2007 world cup was the best competition i've ever seen, in any sport. That England-Australia QF was beyond belief, all about bulldog spirit.

  • Comment number 54.

    Oh, by the way, back to the real topic of this blog. Don't believe NZ choked, just think they eased off, thinking they had already won. Particularly against France, you can't do that against them. I think NZ are the favourites once again, but they have to keep up the intensity for every minute of every game, there are a few other teams snapping at their heels.

  • Comment number 55.

    pmatson... think you need to get out more.

  • Comment number 56.

    Think I might put money on the AB's to win back to back World Cups. How wonderful it would be to see the chatter of AB's can only win in their own back yard. To actually lift the little gold goblet for a third time at Twickenham where they annually lump on the points and misery to old blighty.

  • Comment number 57.

    Yeah good one porridge_times. I'll say the same thing to you as to fallingTP. Come up with some valid counter points instead foolish one liners like "you need to get out more". Anyone for an intelligent discussion please

  • Comment number 58.

    Totally agree with pmatson especially point 3, " Favorable refereeing decision. I firmly believe that the All Blacks get so many favorable decisions from referees in the same way Man Utd do in football. Particularly in the breakdown where McCaw has made a career of deliberately slowing down play without punishment. It’s about time the referees starting punishing them as much as they punish other teams. Then we might see how good the All Blacks really are.

    I wouldn`t worry about some of the comments on here mate , but anyone that has watched the Tri-Nations, Super 15 ( and Super 14 for that matter!) or even Autumn Internationals, know that he`s been getting away with this for far too long, but because it`s "Richie", refs turn a blind eye.keep up the good work enjoy your posts.

  • Comment number 59.

    Incidentally the comment on the politicians in NZ and hoo-ha of England wearing a black strip for the World Cup, assuming they have a patent on "their" black strip.Did you hear England complaining when NZ donned an all white "change" strip 07/09 .....er I suspect not.

  • Comment number 60.

    I disagree that the ABs went in to the '95 tournament as favourites. Before the tournament they were the fourth rated team at best behind Australia, South Africa and England. They had international novices at 7, 10 & 15, and Lomu had made a negligible impact on the world stage. It was only as the tournament progressed that they emerged as red hot favourites. Going in to the competition, both the '99 and '03 teams were much more fancied.

  • Comment number 61.

    Okay I humour you pmatson. Every point you made is stupid and envy based.

  • Comment number 62.

    pmatson, try not to take it so seriously (and personally). There are a lot of wind up merchants out there who like to get a rise out of people. Unfortunately you are supplying them with a lot of ammunition by responding all the time.

    But all of your points were rubbish as well.

  • Comment number 63.

    Okay so lets get this straight the All Blacks get favourable refereeing decisions, but they have failed to win the World Cup for 24 years. Surely if these referees were favouring them then they would have at least benefited it at one world cup in the last five.
    Think some of you guys need to wake up and smell the roses.

  • Comment number 64.

    To Tom_rowlands25 I asked for intelligent discussion. Firstly I originally gave three reasons why I don't want to see the ABs win the World Cup. If you disagree that is fair enough but please let me know why instead of a blanket statement like "all your points are rubbish". Secondly I'm not the one taking it personally. It's all the AB fans that make comments such as "get out more" and "you have a chip on your shoulder" just becuase I'm a rugby fan that doesn't support the ABs.

  • Comment number 65.

    Dear oh dear porridge times, some of us on here do indeed need to wake up.What I said was "Richie Macaw" has been getting favourable decisions for quite some time now.Now seeing as there`s only been one other World Cup(2007) in the time that he`s been playing , doesn`t take a genius to see that this is not 24 years and also no one player makes a team , come on even you know that??

  • Comment number 66.

    In six weeks' time, with perfect hindsight, we'll all be acclaiming nnnnnn as the new champions, and saying we saw it coming all along.

    Which is what makes this debate so delicious - we're all risking large portions of egg on face, in the full knowledge that pre-RWC form often counts for little, and that winners often take time to get into their stride.

    Any way - here goes - highly unlikely that a NH side will win(boo!) - at best we'll take out one of the big SH 3, and then succomb.

    The ABs look strong, but lack depth in key positions; if Carter picks up an injury in the the knockout stages, they'll struggle, and they don't have quality cover at 2 or 7 either. Add to that the fact that playing smart heads-up rugby in the knock-out stages doesn't seem to be in the AB DNA and I don't see them as favourites.

    The Saffers tried to play it smart by resting key players in the Tri Nations, which may work for them. Working against them has been political interference in selection, resulting in some squad members plainly not up to test rugby at the highest level. They are the Dad's Army of 2011, but they're plainly in the right siege mindset, and they might just surprise everyone.

    Everyone loves the Aussies and their youthful flair, but can they pace themselves, and can they dog it out in the trenches when flair doesn't cut it? I'm not convinced.

    Look away now AB fans, but I think you're in for four more years of hurt, and the Saffers will defy expectation and anno domini and do it again.

  • Comment number 67.

    Anybody who's followed the Lions (of any era) out in New Zealand will know that playing them at home is a whole different ball game.I think that only Australia are anywhere near them but not near enough to go to Eden Park and beat them.If Dan the man gets injured then things maybe get more even but I can see them giving everybody they play a bit of a beating..

  • Comment number 68.

    Completely agree with Vettelmettle. NZ are the dark horses. Better value out there for teams who can marry class with the ability to handle the big moments in life. I would never go the trenches with any member of the AB team. All muscle, no strategy.

  • Comment number 69.

    @ pmatson: I would not like to see New Zealand win the world cup for the following reasons.
    1. New Zealand have been poaching Pacific Island talent for as long as I can remember
    2. The Kiwi media should start writing objective articles and need to realize that for all their Northern Hemisphere bashing a Northern Hemisphere team (England) has a better World cup record than them

    I would just like to correct you on these 2 points..

    1. NZ is a pacific island
    2. The media have every right to be arrogant. After all, NZ are the number 1 team in the world and have consistently as of late been bashing the northern hemisphere teams

  • Comment number 70.

    vettelmettle wrote: I don't understand why rugby pundits and fans always focus on NZ!
    These guys are like the Harlem Globetrotters(Arsenal might be a better comparison) of the rugby world! Graham Henry's mindless nattering and complacency will once again be their downfall! When it comes to the crunch, they crumble like stale pastry and show their true colours, while sides like the French and South Africans rise to the occasion to beat adversity and eliminate issues they might have had within the team or their game!

    Australia and England are not strong and talented enough, respectively to see through the WC. A couple of injuries, loss of form or confidence to vital players for the Australians(Will Genia and Quade Cooper to be precise), should see their WC go up in flames and if England think Tuilagi is going to smash through a South African, New Zealand or French midfield, like he did against Wales, they better start thinking about contingency plan because he will be put down like a pitbull that's infected with rabies!

    New Zealand will do their haka(threatening to tear of the mask of nature to stare at the face of GOD) with pride, but despite being at home, they get the dark horses tag for me! They have a talented side, with sufficient sturdy experience, but having said all that, in the last WC, France passed them over like a jewish holiday, they had the same and you all know how that turned out.....

    Frankly, if this WC is won by any other country either than South Africa or France, I will be surprised, disappointed and probably angry!

    Sadly I don't have much hope for the rest of the teams in the tournament, the gap doesn't seem to be closing, unfortunately for Argentina, who were brilliant in 2007!

    I can't wait for Friday!
    _____________________________________________________ /

    Silly pome

  • Comment number 71.

    It is rewriting history to suggest that the All Blacks were favourites to win the World Cup every year since 1987.

    In 1991 the Aussies beat the All Blacks once that summer and lost narrowly by 3 points in NZ. They had split the series the year before. The summer series in 1991 also saw the Aussies absolutely murder a full strength England team which had just won the Grand Slam. The Aussies were faves, and they won it.

    In 1995 the All Blacks were favourites.

    In 1999 the Aussies were favourites to win.

    In 2003 England were clear favourites going in.

    In 2007 the All Blacks were favourites.

  • Comment number 72.

    '@18, childish remark yes, but I would hazard a guess that you think 'Anyone But England' is perfectly acceptable...'

    Few years ago, yeah sure. But any Welshman who actually grows up gets rid of that mindset. I'd hate to see England win, I won't lie. I'd happily see them do well (semi, etc.), but I'd hate to see them win. Partly because of casual fans like 18, who probably only follows football, but mostly because the media coverage would be so sickeningly unbearable. I can only imagine, grimly, how John Inverdale would be if England won the tournament. Fair comment?

  • Comment number 73.

    pmatson

    "New Zealand have been poaching Pacific Island talent"

    Really. Please tell me who these people are? Do you include the 17 New Zealand born players in the Samoan RWC squad of 30 amongst these?

  • Comment number 74.

    To billybrag. Your comment is very foolish. I am fully aware that NZ is a country in the Pacific. However, anybody who knows anything about rugby knows that when the Pacific Island countries are referred to in a rugby context then it incorporates Samoa, Fiji and Tonga specifically and not NZ, Australia or Japan. Hence why the Pacific Island nations sometime play as a combined team much like the B&I Lions. So for this you haven't corrected any point.
    Secondly you just backed my point which is that the NZ media is very arrogant. The ABs have probably been the number one ranked team going into every world cup so far. However given the history of the world cup the Kiwi media should exercise caution considering the ABs history of being chokers.

  • Comment number 75.

    But matson please tell me thus who has been poached? You really should try to get your facts right here particularly as I suspect you are English and may not thus be coming from a position of strength.

  • Comment number 76.

    Can the hosts New Zealand end a 24-year wait for World Cup victory?

    +++++

    No.

  • Comment number 77.

    It's a disgrace that higher seeded countries have more rest time despite the obvious advantage in professionalism, size, ability and numbers.

    In any drawn group, the lowest seeded team should get the most favourable schedule and the highest seeded team should get the least favourable. Its a handicap to even an already extremely unbalanced playing field.

    In the NHL, the lowest seeded team, gets first pick of the draft the following year. It keeps the teams competitive in one of the most exciting sports leagues in the world. A team that finishes bottom one year can be Stanley Cup finalists the next, and vice versa.

    Smaller countries should get more rest time. It's a courtesy. New Zealand have taken great care to set themselves up for an easy ride in the group, despite bleating that they were knocked out by France last time because they were undercooked in the group stages.

    It is clear New Zealand are going to have no problems getting out of the group anyway. But apparently being number 1 in the world and having overwhelming home support in every fixture wasn't enough.

    You would think as administrators of the World Cup it would make sense for them to give smaller teams a better turnaround, and minimise the chances of serious injury. Instead they have drafted a schedule that grinds amateur players into the dirt, and sees seasoned professionals spend more time on their sunloungers between fixtures.

    It is unsporting, cynical and extremely unlikeable. I have lost a lot of respect for New Zealand because of this. Hopefully they will choke again.

  • Comment number 78.

    I think you will find that it is TV scheduling that dictates so the those in the Northenr Hem can watch over their cornflakes. Scheduling I believe is a matter for the IRB

  • Comment number 79.

    Inverdale and Guscott get a ridiculous amount of flack from non-English fans.

    If Scotland won the World Cup we'd never shut up about it. If England win, they are more than welcome to brag about it because hand on heart, we would do the same. If I don't like it, I can always change the channel.

    I feel sorry for the English not being able to celebrate their previous World Cup victory as fully as they should be able to, because they have to be mindful of bitter Celtic fans who have a hissy fit whenever the events of 2003 are celebrated, replayed or even mentioned.

    I wouldn't expect anyone to refrain from celebrating their achievement, because of my sensitivity over my own failures. Nor would I refrain from celebrating any of my achievement because of someone else's oversensitivity.

    There are an awful lot of nancies out there who need to get over their bitterness.

  • Comment number 80.

    Next 2 months will define well being of so many sad people. I shudder to imagine what will happen to all those gleeful "choking" mantra chanters if NZ win. They may as well shoot themselves facing prospect of 4 black years.

    P.S. It seems that 2nd most popular mantra "poachers" has quietly dissipated. It must have something to do with England itself increasingly looking like Pacifrican team. And unlike NZ who actually wait till islanders are born there, England takes full grown adults. Poachers. :D

  • Comment number 81.

    NZ have beaten all... until recently. Losses to Aus and SA to lost the Tri-Nations from a winning position have raised the old spectre of other major teams peaking for the world cup.

    Yes against SA they ested Carter and McCaw but they were supposed to finding out how it might be if those two were injured. And against Aus they were playing and still they lost.

    There is a mentality issue here - they need to step away and imaginge LOSING the WC - that way they will realise that yes, they will cope with it, life will go on. And then they are ready to go out and win it for themselves and their country - without fear.

    Ready to "play the game, not the occasion"

  • Comment number 82.

    It's easy to favour the usual suspects (Aus and SA, possibly England) but it seems many are overlooking the likes of Georgia and Samoa. World Cups are won in the forwards and Georgia have a mean scrum, while they have up and coming talent in the backs.

    Samoa get better and better despite providing players for the likes of England and New Zealand. They've just opened a high performance training centre so in future their best players won't have to necessarily head abroad.. perhaps this WC is a bit early for them but in the future who knows.

  • Comment number 83.

    ScotsSevensNutjob - thanks for the rational words! As an England fan I have no problem with us being the target of Wales, Ireland, Scotland etc - we're the big country in these isles so the natural target. Yet the borderline racism and abuse the Celtic nations are able to dish out to Englishmen without it ever being allowed to be a two-way street is unacceptable. The Irish media is the worst: rationality & respect towards England's rugby players is now unheard of... but then, I guess we don't need to say anything in England, we'll console ourselves with watching the Irish 'Golden Generation' perform to their usual level at the RWC...

    As for NZ... absolutely not a foregone conclusion they'll win this one. How much are Carter & McCaw going to be targeted? Very little chance both will be fit for every knock-out game, and NZ's psychology without them is worryingly fragile. Australia to win this one over NZ for me; RSA & Eng in the semis, and Lievremont to finally get the sacking he's long needed....

  • Comment number 84.

    It never ceases to amaze me how some NZ sports fans and all NZ media outlets are so selective and disingenuous about the subject of sports folk not playing for their country of birth.

    There can be no doubt that if one is objective about it that Fiji, Samoa, Tonga etc. would have been much stronger in rugby terms had the plethora of players who played for the ABs actually plaid for their country of birth.

    Having said that, that was their choice frankly I do not care but do find it annoying when sports fans and all media outlets in NZ continually harp on about sports folk not born in England playing for England and no mention of NZ own record on this subject.

    Best NZ netball shooter born SA
    One of the best NZ no 10s to play rugby born SA
    One of the best NZ full backs born ENG
    Any number of ABs born various including PIs, Australia
    Cricketers Roger Twose Eng, Dipak Patel, Kenya.

    Just to name a few off the top of my head. NZlanders need to grow up and concentrate on NZ and what we have here.

    Get over it NZ all countries have foreign born players in all sports just like they have people in business the arts ETC ETC

  • Comment number 85.

    I think most of the foreign born argument is now done tounge in cheek. I know from first hand experience after being a Kiwi living in the UK from 95-03 that the English rugby media and fraternity in general used it as an excuse everytime. Funny now the shoes on the other foot.
    I also read all the (arrogant) Kiwi media regarding the English black strip. One negative comment from Jonah Lomu is all pmatson can be talking about. The NZRFU supported the black strip right from the get go.

  • Comment number 86.

    Something that should be corrected in most of these comments and within the article... is that New Zealanders no longer build our team up as favourites. It's been so many years with so many sad world cup endings, that we simply settle for 'hope' now days.

    Most of the pressure that is built up comes from foreign journalists talking up the all blacks and the weight of expectation of the New Zealand public... but in reality we've lost the world cup a great many times in a row now. Nobody here is under any illusion.

    Don't mistake a passionate New Zealander saying they hope the All Blacks win for arrogance - Rather, it's feigned confidence hiding the deeper acceptance we have that our team is not great at tournament rugby.

    As for our record of choking.... At least we've won the tournament... 5 semi finals and 2 grand finals France? I think you have some snail shell stuck in your throat. As for Scotland, Ireland and Wales... all 5/6 nations champions in their time... some even in World Cup year... I say no more.

  • Comment number 87.

    In response to the NZ poaching debate,

    John Schwalger - Apia - Samoa
    Sione Lauaki - Ha'apai - Tonga
    Isaia Toeava - Moto'otua - Samoa
    Rodney So'oialo - Moto'otua - Samoa
    Joe Rokocoko - Nadi -Fiji
    Mils Muliaina - Salesi - Samoa
    Sitiveni Sivivatu - Suva - Fiji

    I'm pretty sure that's all of them. Granted they are all from various Pacific islands but they are not from New Zealand.

  • Comment number 88.

    birdmanjon,

    As of 2010, 23% of New Zealand's population were born overseas. I'd consider it fairly obvious that this trend is also reflected in our national sports teams. If you go back one generation the number closes in on 40%.

    Foreign born people fill roles in New Zealand from university lecturers to politicians, to police officers to school teachers. We're a nation descended 100% from immigrants. You old worlders lose track of this in your judgements sometimes.

    I don't really care about the birth country debate and think it's a ridiculous side issue. It's up to the players who they play for... They all make their choice knowing the rules and choose money and opportunity over their homelands, In most cases they end up benefiting their homelands through remittances. Australia can have Quade Cooper and Japan can have their ex pat leftovers. The only change I would make would be for there to be an allowance for players to change countries after a stand down period of maybe 4-5 years. Other than that, I think you guys are arguing like a bunch of children over something which isn't that important.

  • Comment number 89.

    The best team in the sense of the most gifted or attractive to watch do not always win World Cups. Take the Brazilian soccer team generally regarded as perennially the "best" there is. They have won 5 cups in 81 years or an average of one every 16 but are invariably the favourites at each tournament. In 1982 for example they were the most exciting side but didnt win it. New Zealand have been favourites or close to it in every WC contest but have won once in 24 years. So why do these top two nations struggle to win more often in these inter-national contests? A little bit of arrogance I would suggest that they are naturally gifted and dont need to respect or analyse our opponents. Every team has access to unlimited computer analysis of opponents and to minimize the importance here in formulating tactics is suicidal....maybe its the boffins off the field who determine ultimate success....food for thought.

  • Comment number 90.

    I have absolutely no problem with the fact that countries field players that are born in other countries. I think it is often a true representation of a countries demographics and is something is only going to become more prominent in the future. I was merely pointing out the names that were requested by FallingTP.

    I don't however think that there should be any kind of option to change countries after representing another country. Playing for ones/ any country is a commitment and is not something that you should be able to renege on.

    On the world cup. NZ have alot of pressure on them and if they lost McCaw and Carter I think that pressure could really make it a struggle. England have a great world cup pedigree and it would be a mistake to dismiss them too easily. OZ have come into some form recently and are going to be very tough to beat. SA, who knows they also play well at world cups. I think that it is most likely that one of those teams will win, depending on who stays fit, has a good day on the right day or has a bit of luck on their side.

  • Comment number 91.

    @ptmatson: Maybe people would be more inclined to counter your arguments if they wernet completely subjective. This blog is about if NZ should or even could win the world cup. Not about if we WANT them too. I dont want NZ to win the WC because I want England to win it. And nothing, NOTHING, is going to change that for me.

    @89akatiptoe: 'maybe its the boffins off the field who determine ultimate success' - Surely Englands 2007 WC run shows at the end of the day it comes down the the players on the pitch, I know we didnt have success really, but being finalists is kinda success, and between the two SA games could the boffins have had that much affect on the players? I don't think so, they players had to look inside themselves and bring their A game when it really mattered.

    @peoplemoaningaboutDROP-GOALS: They are part of the game. Embrase it or find another sport. Almost every WC final has had drop goals in. They are a useful tool as rugby is a territory game. Teams should have a chance to be rewarded for pinning their opponents back on the line. A try can be scored from anywhere on the pitch! If we did not have them there would be alot more draws in rugby, and lets be honest, who actually likes a draw?

    @peoplemoaningaboutWHERE-PLAYERS-ARE-BORN: One thing has been proven over the past few weeks on these blogs in regards to this, that is, almsot every team does it. Why? Becuase it is within the rules of the game. Just like 15 players on the pitch at one time, just like you can't throw the ball forward. We all play by the same rules so how about we all get over it?

    @peoplemoaningaboutTHE-BLACK-SHIRT-DEBATE: So what? NZ change strip is White is it not? Havent England got a proud heritage in that White shirt?

    That said. I think NZ, Aus, SA, England and France all have a realistic chance of winning this WC. And also in that order. The gaps between the teams vary. But I dont see any other team really having a chance.If carter takes a knock then I can see NZ crashing out in style.

  • Comment number 92.

    Whocares

    Who are these adults you speak of?

  • Comment number 93.

    @92 The only adult he can POSSIBLY be refering to is Flutey....but wait he isnt in the squad....and oh it was HIS decision to play for England. And I am thankful he did. But like I said above, it doesnt matter, no coutry is breaking any rule by who they select.

  • Comment number 94.

    Sevensnutjob... why is all your bile directed towards NZ? The IRB set the playing schedule not the NZRFU and the tops seeds in every group are favoured. Would that have anything to do with being seeded. If Scotland had managed to beat Argentina last time around we would have been better seeded. Your actually coming across as more of a Blighty than a Scot.


    JolCool.. this will be McCaw's third world cup and he actually does not get any favouritism. Well not any more than say Neil Back got... but I suppose that was okay as he was clever to read the ref. McCaw is a class player and like all good opensides will push the envelope where he can... you are only jealous that your team is not entering the test arena or world cup with a player of that quality.

  • Comment number 95.

    Porridge

    When Back and Johnson were pushing the ABs around it Wellington in 2003 Back was sent off (sin binned) and every Media outlet in NZ shouted from the roof tops that Back was a cheat. Lets at least try and get it balanced regardless of who we are supporting

  • Comment number 96.

    You poms make me laugh with this chokers tag. Choking is snatching defeat from the jaws of victory - aside from 95 the ABs have never been in position to win it. As opposed to England with a solitary success from how many finals? Or Aussie making a final at home and blowing it? That's choking!

    ABs should be favoured at home, but favouritism guarantees nothing. It's still 0-0 at kickoff. I don't see Aus as in the hunt. They didn't play well in Brisy, the game decided on a missed tackle by Mealamu, but even if Thomo hadn't been injured he would have stopped Samo's try. The ABs were already in RWC mode from what I saw of them in Bris pre-match. Out for brunch with family and almost in holiday mode.

    Likely semi is ABs v Boks and that will be the final basically. I can tell you though that I've not seen so many AB flags flying in this country as I have done this week. Nevermind stadium, we've got an army of 4million behind the boys this time and that loss in Aus just put the country on edge.
    This is gonna be AWESOME!

  • Comment number 97.

    Why is it so difficult for those in the Nortehrn Hemisphere to get their heads around the fact that these guys are immigarnts just as Nasser Hussian, Owias Shah, Dylan Armitage, Erinle, Ubogu etc etc are kids of immigrants

    John Schwalger - Apia - Samoa Came to New Zealand when he was 4 years old
    Sione Lauaki - Ha'apai - Tonga Came to New Zealand when he was 7
    Isaia Toeava - Moto'otua - Samoa Came to New Zealand when he was y years old
    Rodney So'oialo - Moto'otua - Samoa Came to New Zealand when he was 5 years old. His brother who is playing for Samoa in this RWC was born in Wellington
    Joe Rokocoko - Nadi -Fiji Came to New Zealand when 5 years old

  • Comment number 98.

    SouthSeaIslander... my children have two flags flying in our front garden... An All Black one and Scottish Saltaire which I may add is half the size of the AB flag. Currently I'm over in the States and will not be back in NZ until late September. I'm thoroughly looking forward to this and can't think of a better country for a world cup to be played in.
    My olderst lad is playing a reps game in the Hawkes Bay this weekend and some of the French team are reportedly going along to watch it. For a twelve year old this is as good as it gets.
    Personally I don't care who wins the rugby world cup, but if NZ play to their full potential and with the enterprise that we have become accostumed to see from the then I cannot think of a better and more deserving side to be world champions.
    Come on Scotland!

  • Comment number 99.

    The Ice Man above should be "7" and not "y"

    And how please if we are such experts at poaching can one explain why 17 of the Samoan RWC squad are New Zealand Born (there have only been 13 All Blacks born in Samoa going back to Jonny Schuster who was an AB from1987/89) and a further 4 grew up in NZ. A further 3 did some of their secodary schooling in NZ.


    The overhwelming majority of people of Samoan and Tonagn linegage to play for New Zealand are New Zealanders having eitehr been born their or grown up their. This is not paoching.

    All people reveal by making claims of poaching is their total ignorance.

  • Comment number 100.

    Great news Porridge about your boy. Where is he at school? Must try and work out way of gettign together for a pint in Havelock next month.

 

Page 1 of 2

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.