Only three teams can win World Cup, says McKenzie

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    The Rugby World Cup kicks off on Friday night amid much hype and fanfare in New Zealand, with shrewd mentor Ewen McKenzie likening the showpiece event to a grand slam tennis tournament with only three genuine contenders.

    Just as the so-called Big Three of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have dominated tennis majors for the past six years, McKenzie suspects only New Zealand, Australia and England are truly capable of winning seven consecutive matches to lift the Webb Ellis Cup.

    McKenzie, who guided Queensland to this year’s Super Rugby title and was a Wallabies assistant coach to Eddie Jones when Australia reached the 2003 World Cup final in Sydney, rates South Africa, France, Ireland, Wales and Scotland as outsiders unlikely to go all the way.

    “There’s certainly some very key games as we go and we’ll be watching those pivotal games that can change the nature of the tournament, but I just keep going back to who can win seven straight games,” McKenzie told AAP.

    “How many teams in the world against oppositions with increasing abilities can get seven wins in a row? There’s not a lot of contenders in that space.

    “It’s not dissimilar to a grand slam tennis tournament where you’ve got to front up and win seven straight.

    “Within that, you’ve got to work out which teams have got the depth because there’ll be a few injuries and things like that.

    “You need to be able to get through the rub of the green. It will be about luck; a yellow card can make a big difference. A yellow card usually means a try.

    “All of those are things we can’t control or know about and it makes the tournament interesting.

    “But I still keep going back to who can win seven straight.

    “Clearly the All Blacks are in the mix, Australia are there and the English have done well (in the lead-up).

    “There’s not a lot of other teams that can do that as the opposition gets harder and harder.”

    The seventh edition of the World Cup is back where the extravaganza began in 1987, in rugby-mad New Zealand described as a stadium of four million.

    It guarantees a total immersion for fans an the 600 players from 20 teams spread across the country ready for the six-week tournament.

    “This is the spiritual home of rugby,” acknowledged International Rugby Board (IRB) chief executive Mike Miller.

    More than 58,000 spectators are expected to fill the revamped Eden Park for Friday night’s tournament start between the All Blacks and neighbouring Tonga, with another 50,000 fans expected to pack Auckland’s waterfront party area to watch the kick-off and spectacular opening ceremony on big screens.

    Then two of those pivotal pool matches McKenzie was talking about take place over the weekend.

    England, the European champions, take on surprise 2007 semi-finalists Argentina in Dunedin on Saturday night.

    With Scotland also hovering in Pool B, victory is imperative for England and Argentina to keep alive their respective hopes of topping the group and gaining less difficult knockout path to the October 23 final.

    England will be without skipper Lewis Moody (knee) and winger Mark Cueto (back), but still boast a wealth of experience headed by 2003 World Cup final hero Jonny Wilkinson at five-eighth.

    Pitted in Pool C alongside Ireland, Italy, Russia and the USA, Australia launch their quest for a third World Cup against the Azzurri at Auckland’s North Harbour Stadium on Sunday night before defending champions South Africa tackle Wales in a massive Pool D encounter on Sunday night in Wellington.

    Should they top Pool C as expected, the Wallabies will meet the runners-up from Pool D in the quarter-finals – and Wales coach Warren Gatland insists that may well be the defending champion Springboks.

    The Welsh also have Wallabies conquerors Samoa plus Fiji and Namibia in their group and have not beaten South Africa for 12 years.

    Gatland, though, believes they can upset the 2007 champions and sweep the pool stages.

    “We’ve lost by four points, three points and five points and we’ve outscored them seven tries to six in the last three matches,” he said this week.

    In other games on Saturday, France and Japan – in top-ranked New Zealand’s Pool A – clash at North Harbour Stadium on Saturday, Scotland face Romania in Invercargill and Fiji and Namibia square off in Rotorua.

    Ireland and the USA play on Sunday in New Plymouth.

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (55)

    • September 9th 2011 @ 5:35am
      philcav said | September 9th 2011 @ 5:35am | ! Report

      remind me again when did the wallabies win seven straight?

      • September 9th 2011 @ 8:05am
        El Gamba said | September 9th 2011 @ 8:05am | ! Report

        ’91 and ’99 is a good starting point.

        • September 9th 2011 @ 5:17pm
          jokerman said | September 9th 2011 @ 5:17pm | ! Report

          Yeah you tell him EL Gaba, only 12 years ago!!

        • November 30th 2011 @ 2:49pm
          Kane said | November 30th 2011 @ 2:49pm | ! Report

          Australia have never won 7 straight at a world cup

    • September 9th 2011 @ 5:43am
      Charging Rhino said | September 9th 2011 @ 5:43am | ! Report

      Ha ha what a laugh… England??? Does Ewen McKenzie not realise that since the last World Cup the Boks have a 50-50 record against both NZ and Aus. Played 11, won 5, lost 6. And the majority of those loses have been in the past 2 years with an under-strength team and key players missing. And the Boks have smashed England every time since Nov 06. Boks have the majority of their strong 09 team back again and they will stand up and be counted!! But it’s perfect… saying they’re the underdogs once again… playing perfectly into their hands. Not much in it between NZ, Aus and SA.

      • September 9th 2011 @ 7:08am
        Uncle Argyle said | September 9th 2011 @ 7:08am | ! Report

        No I agree Rhino there is not much between Aus/Nz and SA…except about 10,000kms and a reality check. Seriously CR every time a defending RWC team goes on about how its stars from the previous cup are back they have faultered. The All Blacks of 87 were not the All Blacks of 91; The Wallabies of 91 were not the Wallabies of 95, The Bok’s of 95 were not the Bok’s of 99; The Wallabies of 99 were not the Wallabies of 03; the Pom’s of 03 were not te Pom’s of 07. If you seem to think that your 07 team will be able to do what they did in 2011 I think you might get a little dissappointed. There are some old Bok legs getting around out there and I am not sure they have 7 weeks of rugby in them plus the 07 game plan does not really work in 2011. However do not let me stop you from loving your rugby and team. Enjoy the cup!

        • September 9th 2011 @ 7:27am
          ChrisT said | September 9th 2011 @ 7:27am | ! Report

          You’d have to label McKenzie a shrewd judge in matters rugby & I also suspect some gas is leaving this SA vintage but I’m not sure I’d be writing them off – they have a pedigree that’s tough to ignore and a habit of making limited game plans work for them. Also not sure how McKenzie equates England’s lead up as a pointer to a successful run needed to lift the cup. They’ve been all over the place form wise and come into this comp already carrying injuries to starting players.

        • September 9th 2011 @ 7:31am
          Charging Rhino said | September 9th 2011 @ 7:31am | ! Report

          Some valid points about a team that won it is not the same team 4 years later in the next WC. As history has proven. However England did make the final and kicked out Australia and France in the process…..
          I’d more consider this team the Boks of 09. Unstoppable! Plus, in fact the Boks squad this year on average is slightly younger than the All Blacks squad… something to think about… as most of the All Blacks players were there in 07 too. The game plan worked in 1995… came close in 1999… worked for England in 2003 and worked for the Boks in 07 so I’m not convinced about your theory… rugby doesn’t change that much, the basics still apply. Do the basics right and better than the opposition and you win. Simple. In 09 it had more to do with the players and tactically executing this to perfection in 09, rather than the rules or rule changes. Bulls won the 2010 Super title easily in 2010 with the rule changes (and no I’m not a Bulls fan). And their game plan is very similar to the Boks. Plus the rules at the breakdown have been relaxed again since last year.
          But different strokes for different folks. What works for some people or teams, others despise an vice versa. It’s what makes us all different. At the end of the day winning rugby is attractive and that’s all that matters. If your team is winning they’ll pull in the crowds and fans and pack out stadiums, regardless of how many tries are scored or dazzling back line moves are done during the game. If you want to see these then people should rather watch league or the rugby 7’s. That’s what makes Rugby so exciting!!!
          Anyway I honestly think that the Wallabies are looking the most dangerous and I’d pick them as favourites on form and player class. Also considering their route through to the final. Although because it’s at home the favourites tag has to sit with NZ.
          Boks wont sit down. They want it. Not much between the 3 sides. England and France will need something exceptional to win it in my opinion. But any one of NZ, Aus and SA can take each other on any day. Which is why the record since the last WC is so even.
          You enjoy the cup too and good luck to your team! πŸ™‚

          • Roar Guru

            September 9th 2011 @ 7:57am
            AdamS said | September 9th 2011 @ 7:57am | ! Report

            The Boks have absolutely no chance.
            Unless Smits suffers a tournament ending injury whilst warming up for the Wales match that is.
            He will be your undoing.

            • September 9th 2011 @ 8:39am
              Riccardo said | September 9th 2011 @ 8:39am | ! Report

              Totally agree. Boks MUST have Du Plessis at hooker to have even an outside chance…

            • September 9th 2011 @ 4:18pm
              Charging Rhino said | September 9th 2011 @ 4:18pm | ! Report

              I’m not too worried about Smit. He wont be on the field for the whole game. For his age and sluggishness he’s still a great player and not a bad hooker at all and definitely second best behind Bismark in SA. He’s strong and powerfull in the tight, and set pieces, whereas Bismark plays looser. Smit was one of the stand out performers in the Boks B team they sent to NZ and Aus earlier this year.
              But of course Bismark is flippen excellent and probably the best hooker in the world. We all know that. I don’t think Smit will be the liability everyone is making him out to be.
              It’s a tough one…. not sure how management will manage this effectively.

              But write the Boks off at your own peril πŸ™‚ We will just keep smiling because the players, and all their fans know they can win it. We have by far the best record against the All Blacks since WC 07….. and actually … umm …. ever in history. And by far the best record winning in NZ.

              I can’t call the favourites. NZ has to be at home. But on current form I’d pick the Aussies. But Boks are also on the same page.

              • September 9th 2011 @ 4:52pm
                Sprigs said | September 9th 2011 @ 4:52pm | ! Report

                No rugby fan over the age of 50 would ever write off the mighty Boks (or the ABs for that matter). We’ve been burnt too often…

            • September 9th 2011 @ 5:32pm
              Ben S said | September 9th 2011 @ 5:32pm | ! Report

              Keep smiling, Rhino, because I assume otherwise it’s tears before bedtime. South Africa have not done a single thing in the past two seasons to suggest they are any where near a cup winning side, so I’m not sure what your basing your profound optimism on (beyond arrogance, that is).

              • September 9th 2011 @ 7:07pm
                Charging Rhino said | September 9th 2011 @ 7:07pm | ! Report

                Bens S … there’s no arrogance mate. And I don’t think anything I said above implies this. All I’m saying is the Boks have a big chance as do NZ, Aus, and to a slightly lesser extent France and England.
                NZ are favourites. For sure I’m not denying this. They have to be in NZ. Aus are in awesome form too. Boks have key players back that made them so good in 09. That’s all I’m saying.
                This is a big generalisation here and is probably only true to some Kiwi’s, but not most, (as I have many other really cool & humble Kiwi friends)…but some Kiwi’s expectation that the All Blacks should win is viewed by many people in other parts of the world as arrogant. Why should they win? Because stats and history proves that they will lose games too, especially against the Boks who have by far the best record against them than any other team.

                Since last WC NZ-SA played 11, Boks won 5, NZ won 6. 2 of those wins in NZ. NZ have won 3 in SA. So it’s 50-50 over the past 4 years. THat’s better stats than every other team against NZ and we will hopefully play NZ in the semi (if both teams get there first of course!!).
                Don’t you think these most recent results mean anything? I think they mean it’ll be a close game with the most likely victors being NZ, as home ground advantage favours them. But Boks will be up for it. You can’t ignore this and pretend this record doesn’t exist because it’s reality.
                The same as in 1995, Boks-NZ drew the game in 1994; 18-18 at Eden Park, Auckland. Which was the very last time these two teams met before that final.

                In all honesty though.. all that matters is how each team peaks during this next month and how they rise to the occasion of the big games that matter. For those 80 min (or possibly more).
                Boks may fail, All Blacks may fail but are the favourites and Aus may fail.. who knows?
                Good luck to your team though and enjoy the next month of rugby!!

              • September 9th 2011 @ 7:32pm
                Ben S said | September 9th 2011 @ 7:32pm | ! Report

                Very gracious of you. Enjoy the games too.

              • September 9th 2011 @ 7:44pm
                Ivan said | September 9th 2011 @ 7:44pm | ! Report

                Not sure why the last 2 years means anything for 2011. Lest you forgot, Boks put their best foot forward for the first time this year against Aus in Durban – Dominated the first half and then as expected ran out of puff.

                They then stuffed NZ B.

                So going back 2 years or more is really irrelevant unless we are making the point that the same class of 09 – who took 3 against the Kiwis on the trot – are back.

                Anything else is a moot point, and i reject your theories by virtue of the arrogrance that you will naturally associate to this post.

              • September 9th 2011 @ 8:53pm
                Ben S said | September 9th 2011 @ 8:53pm | ! Report

                ‘Not sure why the last 2 years means anything for 2011. Lest you forgot, Boks put their best foot forward for the first time this year against Aus in Durban – Dominated the first half and then as expected ran out of puff.’

                Because it’s about form. You cannot suggest a side will attain success based on failure. That’s obvious. To that extent, the past two years is certainly far more relevant than the ELV period. Ultimately, SA are coming off two 3N wooden spoons, three home losses in two seasons (two home losses to a very erratic Australian side), their best players are 4 years older and badly out of form, the backline play has been atrocious (no tries in the past 7 Tests), and the side has shown no ability whatsoever to mix and match styles of play. As I have said countless times, this 2011 SA side is nowhere near as good as the 2007 side, and even that side was no great unit. You’re living in a rugby dream world – there is nothing to be positive about.

                ‘They then stuffed NZ B.’

                Somebody say arrogance? They certainly didn’t stuff NZ B. They scraped a win through goal kicking and good scramble defence. The NZ B backline tore the Springbok defence to shreds.

                ‘So going back 2 years or more is really irrelevant unless we are making the point that the same class of 09 – who took 3 against the Kiwis on the trot – are back.’

                Doesn’t make any sense.

              • September 9th 2011 @ 9:27pm
                Ivan said | September 9th 2011 @ 9:27pm | ! Report

                Of course it makes no sense Ben.

                Lets assume your paste and critic method.

                “You cannot suggest a side will attain success based on failure”

                – Like NZ in World Cups ?

                “As I have said countless times, this 2011 SA side is nowhere near as good as the 2007 side, and even that side was no great unit.”

                – the class of 07 is the core of the class of 09. SA had a fantastic year in 09, not a perfect year but a really good one. The class of 09 is the core of this team now. Have they been in good form, not really – thats what would worry me if i was a kiwi or Aussie – The Boks out of form , out of shape, coached by a man out of his mind are still able to beat NZ B, push Aus hard and dominate for periods.

                What will happen if they find form at this WC ?

                Everytime the Boks beat NZ or Aus – the opposition had a bad game, not that it has anything to do with the pressure being heaped on them – no that would be silly to think.

                NZ cut holes in the defense, yes or course – NZ do that to everyone dont they ? Boks were able to scramble, im guessing this means that the defense of the boks is totally inefficient ? Funny enough, Boks won the game – not sure how that happened but apparently the scoreboard counts for more than the amount of times you break the line.

                So on current form, The boks in my books are not that badly placed.

                When we start to talk about wooden spoons for 2010, and 2011 we really get off the topic. SA forfeited this 3N in favour of the WC. Sending lamb(ie)s to the slaughter for the away leg. If the coach thought he would get any points from that side, then he is as crazy as everyone thinks.

                That McKenzie claims NZ, Aus and England are the only title contenders baffles me a little.

                I could be wrong, Boks could lose to Wales, and Samoa and not qualify for the quarters – the only positive from that is the coach wont have his job by the time he gets on the plane back home.

                England will be there, because they can play the ugly springbok game well. You call it 2007 tactics, we call it percentage rugby. tomato potato.

              • September 9th 2011 @ 10:00pm
                Ben S said | September 9th 2011 @ 10:00pm | ! Report

                ‘– Like NZ in World Cups ?’

                No. The failure of the 1999 NZ side to beat France has nothing to do with the current side. Sides who win WCs tend to have form leading in to WCs and/or after the WCs they win. The only side not to have form before or after was the 2007 SA side.

                β€œAs I have said countless times, this 2011 SA side is nowhere near as good as the 2007 side, and even that side was no great unit.”

                ‘– the class of 07 is the core of the class of 09. SA had a fantastic year in 09, not a perfect year but a really good one. The class of 09 is the core of this team now. Have they been in good form, not really – thats what would worry me if i was a kiwi or Aussie – The Boks out of form , out of shape, coached by a man out of his mind are still able to beat NZ B, push Aus hard and dominate for periods.’

                I’m not sure why you keep referring to 2009? Rugby in 2009 was played under different law interpretations, laws that hid the flaws of SA and highlighted their talents. Those laws are gone, hence the past two seasons have been awful periods at Super and Test level.

                PdV has nothing to do with SA rugby. All he does is select the side, and SA has such a lack of depth that he has constantly picked the best players. It isn’t PdV’s fault that Jaque Fourie or Habana can’t pass properly, or that the SA defence has been woeful for a good while now.

                ‘What will happen if they find form at this WC ?’

                Probably not much because the side is 4 years older, and so many players are out of form under law interpretations which don’t suit their talents. What you’re saying is ‘Oh, we could well be a threat of a lot of things start to go right which haven’t gone right for a long time.’, and that’s simply ridiculous. The Australians have won two away games in SA in two seasons. I doubt they give flying fig about an ageing and limited side.

                ‘NZ cut holes in the defense, yes or course – NZ do that to everyone dont they ? Boks were able to scramble, im guessing this means that the defense of the boks is totally inefficient ? Funny enough, Boks won the game – not sure how that happened but apparently the scoreboard counts for more than the amount of times you break the line.’

                Typically childish. You should be more worried why a backline (playing behind a beaten pack) that had never ever played together as a unit could create so many linebreaks with ease.

                ‘So on current form, The boks in my books are not that badly placed.’

                Lol.

                ‘When we start to talk about wooden spoons for 2010, and 2011 we really get off the topic. SA forfeited this 3N in favour of the WC. Sending lamb(ie)s to the slaughter for the away leg. If the coach thought he would get any points from that side, then he is as crazy as everyone thinks.’

                You got smashed last season by your main WC contenders. I think that’s pretty relevant. You have no 3N form. That’s pretty relevant.

                ‘I could be wrong, Boks could lose to Wales, and Samoa and not qualify for the quarters – the only positive from that is the coach wont have his job by the time he gets on the plane back home.’

                It’s easy for you to blame the coach, but like I said – your side is packed with players who are limited. Fourie can’t pass, Habana can’t pass or kick. Steyn can’t run a backline. It’s no coincidence that your Super sides are on a downward curve either. The backplay of the Bulls and the Stormers was horrific.

                You’re just being disingenuous for the sake of it. Some of the stuff you are coming out with is farcical, and you keep ignoring key points for the sake of it. This SA attitude is old hat now. Bore off.

          • September 9th 2011 @ 8:32am
            Uncle Argyle said | September 9th 2011 @ 8:32am | ! Report

            Cheers CR,

            I will feel much better in two weeks if Australia has beaten Italy and Ireland, both will be real tough games for us. All the best.

        • September 9th 2011 @ 8:45am
          Loftus said | September 9th 2011 @ 8:45am | ! Report

          Whahhaha!!! Is he talking about the same England team that got murdered by the Springboks B team a little while ago at Twickenham?

          • September 9th 2011 @ 10:43am
            ChrisT said | September 9th 2011 @ 10:43am | ! Report

            Nope, the England team that murdered the same Wallaby team that went on to beat the Saffers in their own backyard and the AB’s I suspect.

            • September 9th 2011 @ 4:07pm
              Charging Rhino said | September 9th 2011 @ 4:07pm | ! Report

              Boks have owned England since Nov 06!! Not a chance they’d lose to them in NZ. Aussies may have a problem with them but not the Boks. Aussie’s also have a problem with beating the All Blacks in NZ…. but not the Boks. 2 out 5 wins against NZ in 11 games since WC 07 have been in NZ.

              25 Nov 2006 Win: 25-14 Twickenham, London
              26 May 2007 Win: 58-10 Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
              02 Jun 2007 Win: 55-22 Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
              14 Sep 2007 Win: 36-0 Stade de France, Paris
              20 Oct 2007 Win: 15-6 Stade de France, Paris
              22 Nov 2008 Win: 42-6 Twickenham, London
              27 Nov 2010 Win: 21-11 Twickenham, London

          • September 9th 2011 @ 5:35pm
            Ben S said | September 9th 2011 @ 5:35pm | ! Report

            You’ve made reference to this Springbok B side before, Loftus. Does that mean the Springbok side that has been selected to play Wales is also South Africa B?

            • September 9th 2011 @ 9:42pm
              Ivan said | September 9th 2011 @ 9:42pm | ! Report

              I think in South Africa – when ‘your’ favorite player is not selected for the team, that becomes a B team.
              Saffers are deranged by Sport, because of the status quo in the country. Theres nothing else to get excited about #3rdWorld

        • September 9th 2011 @ 5:25pm
          jokerman said | September 9th 2011 @ 5:25pm | ! Report

          Agreed I’m an All Black fan and I’m not too worried about meeting SA in the Semi. I would say SA have about 5% chance of beating the All Blacks. England vs Aussi in the other semi 55% to Austalia winning.

          All Blacks vs Aussi final All Blacks 67%

    • September 9th 2011 @ 7:07am
      Nick_KIA said | September 9th 2011 @ 7:07am | ! Report

      I’m not sure why people keep saying you need to win seven straight – this isn’t correct.

      • September 9th 2011 @ 7:46am
        Moaman said | September 9th 2011 @ 7:46am | ! Report

        Three-in-a-row would suffice were they the last three.

        • September 9th 2011 @ 2:33pm
          soapit said | September 9th 2011 @ 2:33pm | ! Report

          plus the fact its a knock out towards the end means that someone will probably win 7 straight. the only team to do it recently is nz. of course doesnt mean they are the only team that can win though.

      • September 9th 2011 @ 5:30pm
        jokerman said | September 9th 2011 @ 5:30pm | ! Report

        lose one early and you go into a difficult draw, and then confidence is down. From memory I don’t believe any winner has ever lost a game.

    • September 9th 2011 @ 7:48am
      mikeylives said | September 9th 2011 @ 7:48am | ! Report

      If we want to be really accurate, only 1 team can win the RWC.

      We just don’t know who it is yet.

      • September 9th 2011 @ 11:43am
        kiwidave said | September 9th 2011 @ 11:43am | ! Report

        My thoughts exactly, be a bit of a let down if they let them all share it.

    • September 9th 2011 @ 7:50am
      formeropenside said | September 9th 2011 @ 7:50am | ! Report

      Yeah, France are quite capable of losing to the AB’s in the pool rounds, and making the final regardless. And once you are in a final, anything can happen.

      • September 9th 2011 @ 8:13am
        El Gamba said | September 9th 2011 @ 8:13am | ! Report

        I’ve spent a good bit of time over the last few days watching some of the classic matches on Fox.

        One thing about World Cup games is that the intensity is magnified from a regular test match. In an age where test matches are more common and arguably seem to mean less, the World Cup brings back the do or die, one chance, nothing to lose philosophy.

        It’s nice for Ewen and the like to throw out their predictions, and one of the three teams may win however one thing that is guaranteed is that Australia, England, New Zealand, France, South Africa, Ireland, Scotland, Argentina, Samoa, Wales and others will be leaving expectations in the change rooms and playing each game like it’s their last.

        Whilst all of those may not be capable of winning three straight come finals, each and every one of them is capable of winning any given game on any given day with the right bounce of the ball and rub of the green (ask France about the second half of their NZ game in ’99).

        This is one of the great things about the WC.

      • September 9th 2011 @ 10:54am
        Pillock said | September 9th 2011 @ 10:54am | ! Report

        Over the course of the tournament every side will have a bad game.
        It’s a question of who you have your bad game against.
        Only three straight wins at the business end is the way to look at it and also that the finals rarely produce great games like at Suncorp a few weeks ago. They maybe intense but rarely free flowing or great quality. Probably that’s why England will be in the mix at the end. Not the best side but good at grinding out wins on the boot of the deformed gnome, Wilko.

    • September 9th 2011 @ 7:57am
      jus de couchon said | September 9th 2011 @ 7:57am | ! Report

      Correct . only one team can win the world cup.

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