The Benchwarmer's Comment

5:56 pm on 15 September 2015

OPINION: The All Blacks have arrived in Blighty to defend their Rugby World Cup title, with their first official duty being a civic reception at the Tower of London.

Honestly though, they may as well pencil in a few more sightseeing stops for the next few weeks while they wait for things to heat up.

Cocky? Yeah probably, but New Zealand rugby fans pretty much have every right to be. Since the last World Cup final the All Blacks' record is a ridiculous 42 wins, three losses and two draws. This is our World Cup to lose.

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11.09.2015. London, England. Dan Carter from New Zealand, All Blacks, at the welcome ceremony, held at Tower of London for the upcoming Rugby World Cup finals.

Dan Carter, right, greets a local at the Tower of London Photo: Photosport

But first we've got to get through the pool stage.

Here, we have a look at what we could see from the All Blacks, Pacific nations and everyone else in the first few weeks.

Download and print out an RNZ wall guide to the Rugby World Cup by cartoonist Toby Morris

What to expect from the All Blacks

Unfortunately, Pool C isn't exactly loaded with anything particularly interesting from an All Black point of view. They'll start off with a regulation 30-odd - 9 win over the Argies, then dish out three hidings to Tonga, Namibia and Georgia.

What not to expect

That everyone in NZ will be totally relaxed about a potential quarter-final with France in Cardiff.

Chris Jack consoles Byron Kelleher after the All Blacks' quarter-final loss to France in Cardiff, 2007

Chris Jack consoles Byron Kelleher after the All Blacks' quarter-final loss to France in Cardiff, 2007 Photo: Photosport

Unlike the All Blacks, our friends from the Pacific have incredibly interesting pools.

What to expect from Manu Samoa, Tonga and Fiji

A couple of decent-sized upsets. Tonga will be fancying their chances against Los Pumas, Manu will be looking to smack Scotland around and Fiji's role in the pool of death could be a little bit more lethal than first thought.

Tonga's Vungakoto Lilo leads a victory haka after the France v Tonga pool A match of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup at Wellington Regional Stadium, Wellington, New Zealand on Saturday, 1 October 2011. Photo: Dave Lintott / photosport.co.nz

Tonga's Vungakoto Lilo leads a victory haka after the team beat France at Eden Park in 2011 Photo: Photosport

What not to expect

That all of a sudden SANZAR, the Samoan Prime Minister and pro clubs around the world start treating these teams with a bit of respect and support.

There's a bunch more teams in contention spread out across the four pools, ready to cannibalise each another for our amusement.

What to expect from the big hitters

That the Boks will breeze through their pool, the Wallabies and the English will have an epic battle at Twickenham, and France will probably drop one of the games they should win and then beat Ireland in their last pool game.

Toby Flood is wrapped up by Quade Cooper and Deam Mumm. Australia Wallabies v England. International Rugby Match. Perth, Western Australia. Saturday 12 June 2010. Photo: Daniel Carson|PHOTOSPORT

Expect a ding-dong battle when the Wallabies take on England at Twickenham in The Pool of Death Photo: Photosport

There's also another bunch that have about as much chance of winning as John Key does of politely declining a photo op with Richie McCaw.

What to expect from the no-hopers

Wales will give Uruguay a towelling in their first game, cruelly giving their fans hope.

Everyone not familiar with the Japanese team will find their nickname of The Brave Blossoms both cute and amusing.

The USA Eagles will bemoan a lack of funding and organisation despite the fact that they are from the most advanced country in the world.

NZ fans will learn more about Georgia and Namibia during the broadcast of the All Blacks games against them than they ever did at school.

Italy will be sharply dressed, Romania probably won't be, but neither has to worry about a long trip home when they get knocked out.

We're only a matter of days away from the ref blowing time on the first game, so excitement is high. While it was a great deal of fun hosting it in 2011, this time around New Zealanders don't need to worry about trains getting to Eden Park on time, paying $10 for a can of beer because it's a different colour or Stephen Donald having to save the day in a jersey that doesn't fit him*.

* Actually, this could conceivably happen. Go Beaver.

The Benchwarmer's Comment logo

Jamie 'The Benchwarmer' Wall grew up in Wellington and enjoyed a stunningly mediocre rugby career in which the sole highlight was a seat on the bench for his club's premier side. He's enjoyed far more success spouting his viewpoints on the game to anyone who'll care to listen.

The Benchwarmer's Comment will run throughout the World Cup on radionz.co.nz.

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