Rugby World Cup betting guide: Pool A

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World Cup history key (from 1987-2007):
DNQ = Did not qualify, P = Pool stages, QFPO = Quarter-final pool stages, QF = Quarter-finals, SF = Semi-finals, F = Final, W = Winners
Results key
P = Played, W = Won, L = Lost, D = Drawn, T = Tries scored

New Zealand: Predicted pool finishing position – First
World Cup history: W, SF, F, SF, SF, QF
Coach: Graham Henry
Captain: Richie McCaw
Star man: Dan Carter
World ranking: 1
As hosts, New Zealand enter the 2011 Rugby World Cup as many people’s red-hot favourites to win it and the All Blacks odds reflect this at 8/13. Anything less than a final appearance would be deemed a failure.
Fixtures:
New Zealand vs Tonga: Fri September 9 – Auckland, Eden Park
Record against Tonga: P3, W3, T33
New Zealand vs Japan: Fri Spetember 16 – Hamilton
P1, W1, T21
New Zealand vs France: Sat September 24 – Auckland, Eden Park
P49, W36, L12, D1, T139
New Zealand vs Canada: Sun October 2 – Wellington
P34, W4, T35

France: Second
World Cup history: F, QF, SF, F, SF, SF
Coach: Marc Lievremont
Captain: Thierry Dusautoir
Star Man: Maxime Medard
World ranking: 4
Under the enigmatic Marc Lievremont who knows what France will do but their World Cup record speaks for itself. A tough route to the final should they finish second means semi-final looks their best bet.
Fixtures:
France vs Japan: Sat September 10: Auckland, North Harbour
P2, W2, T12
France vs Canada: Sun September 18: Napier
P7, W6, L1, T26
New Zealand vs France: Sat September 25 – Auckland, Eden Park
P49, W12, L36, D1, T64
France vs Tonga: Sat October 1 – Wellington
P3, W2, L1, T10

Tonga: Fifth
World Cup history: P, DNQ, P, P, P, P
Coach: Isitolo Maka
Captain: Finau Maka
Star Man: Viliame Iongi
World ranking: 12
Recent defeats to Japan leave Tonga with plenty to prove in this World Cup and their match with Canada could will be decisive in whether the Tongans finish bottom of the group or not.
Fixtures
New Zealand vs Tonga: Fri September 9 – Auckland, Eden Park
P3, L3, T1
Tonga vs Canada: Wed September 14 – Whangarei
P5, W2, L3, T14
Tonga vs Japan: Wed September 21 – Whangarei
P12, W5, L7, T43
France vs Tonga: Sat October 1 – Wellington
P3, L3, T5

Canada: Fourth
World Cup history: P, QF, P, P, P, P
Coach: Kieran Crowley
Captain: Pat Riordan
Star Man: James Pritchard
World ranking: 13
The match with Japan will go a long way to deciding who finishes top outside of New Zealand and France but Japan are emerging forces in world rugby and Canada will have to settle for fourth.
Fixtures:
Tonga vs Canada: Wed September 14 – Whangarei
P5, W3, L2, T16
France vs Canada: Sun Septemeber 18 – Napier
P8, W1, L7, T5
Canada vs Japan: Tues September 27 – Napier
P20, W8, L11, D1, T61
New Zealand vs Canada – Sun October 2 – Wellington
P5, L5, T5

Japan: Third
World Cup history: P, P, P, P, P, P
Coach: John Kirwan
Captain: Takeshi Kikutani
Star Man: Takehisa Usuzuki
World ranking: 14
Punters should look forward to watching Japan play some exciting running rugby and while it may be an ageing squad, Japan are the up and coming side in world rugby and they could surprise a few punters in New Zealand.
Fixtures:
France vs Japan: Sat September 10 – Auckland, North Harbour
P8, L8, T11
New Zealand vs Japan: Fri September 16 – Hamilton
P3, L3, T3
Tonga vs Japan: Wed September 21 – Whangarei
P12, W7, L5, T31
Canada vs Japan: Tues September 27 – Napier
P20, W11, L8, D1, T73

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