In 1987, Grant Fox, Craig Green and John Kirwan helped New Zealand to win the inaugural Rugby World Cup, with the All Blacks beating France in the Auckland final by a 29-9 scoreline.
The Kiwis have been the bookmaker favourites for the five subsequent renewals of this tournament, although New Zealand have slipped up on each occasion, reaching the final just once since that triumph 24 years ago.
Now they are back on home soil and there can be no excuses for a team who the bookmakers have as stronger favourites than ever, with a best price 4/6 (Paddy Power – £100 free bets) available about Graham Henry’s side.
It is certainly difficult to see the All Blacks slipping up in the group stage where they will face Tonga in the tournament opener on Friday night before matches against Canada, France and Japan. The match against Les Bleus takes place on 24 September with the visitors having beaten New Zealand in the quarter final of the 2007 World Cup.
Even so, the French demonstrated during the recent Six Nations tournament that they are more erratic than ever, with the bookmakers prepared to offer 16/1 (bet365 – £200 free betting) that Marc Lièvremont is able to work wonders with this team.
For a northern hemisphere team to go and win a World Cup in the southern hemisphere is a big old ask, although England have managed this and they have a head coach who played a major role in ensuring that the team clinched the Webb Ellis trophy in 2003.
Martin Johnson arrives in New Zealand with an England squad fresh from winning the Six Nations although there was the failure to complete a Grand Slam in Ireland along with the fact that they were unable to beat Wales in a recent friendly at the Millennium Stadium.
That said, the English players will be focused on getting things right when it matters and they can be backed at a lumpy 18/1 (Sportingbet) to claim victory, with the toughest of their group matches coming on Saturday when they face Argentina.
The team expected to be the main rival to New Zealand when it comes to the crunch is Australia who are a best priced 7/2 although it is hard to understand why South Africa are that much bigger at odds of 9/1 considering that they have the players to make life very tough for any other team.
The bookies aren’t expecting anyone from outside the ‘top five’ to win the 2011 World Cup, with Ireland as big as 40/1 and Wales twice those odds. There are a number of excellent bookmaker offers for this tournament, including Victor Chandler’s offer to refund losing bets as a free bet if England win the World Cup.