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New Zealand - Rugby World Cup

All Blacks off to flying start in Rugby World Cup

Reuters/Jacky Naegelen

The 7th Rugby World Cup kicked off on Friday with a 41-10 victory for hosts New Zealand over Tonga in the opening match. In front of a packed stadium of 60,000 at a refurbished Eden Park in Auckland, the All Blacks scored six tries to one with Sonny Bill Williams responsible for three of them. 

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The All Blacks were the first winners of the World Cup in 1987, but have lost in the knock-out stages of each subsequent tournament.

Previous World Cup winners

  • 1987: New Zealand
  • 1991: Australia
  • 1995: South Africa
  • 2003: England
  • 2007: South Africa

 

This year’s event is expected to draw more than 90,000 supporters almost a quarter from Britain with matches taking place from Whangerei in the far north of the North Island to Invercargill at the bottom of the South Island nearly 3,000 kilometres away.

France starts its campaign on Sunday against Japan who are 13th in the international rankings and have won just once in the past six World Cup tournaments.

But the Six Nations runners-up say they are not complacent and French coach Marc Lievremont has named a powerful side for their opening match.

Twenty teams will compete for the coveted Webb Ellis trophy with New Zealand favourites to win.

A survey carried out by Sofres for the Metro newspaper, confirms the All Blacks as favourites followed by France, South Africa, England, Australia and Wales.

RFI's Paul Myers agrees.

"New Zealand have the home soil advantage," he explains. "And they are under enormous pressure to justify the billing as the 'world's best team', plus there is the sentimental dimension of playing after February's earthquake in Christchurch. And let's not forget they are a simply a very good team."

 

 

 

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