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New Zealand training

One of the more unexpected features of this eighth World Cup has been the paucity of media coverage to date about the All Blacks. The spotlight has shone brightly on matches played by Japan, England, Wales, Australia, and South Africa, and the corresponding results.

A reason, perhaps, is that after the win against Argentina in the opening game, New Zealand have encountered easy competition against Georgia and Namibia, and thus no doubt as to the All Blacks winning Pool C. In these three past RWC games, they have appeared sluggish. They meet Tonga Friday, October 9 in Newcastle.

New Zealand will play either France or Ireland in the quarterfinals, the loser of this Sunday’s match at Millennium Stadium, Cardiff. France have won their past five test matches, while Ireland are 3-2. The French have scored historic upsets against the All Blacks, most memorably, the quarterfinal RWC opener in 2007. Ireland have never made it into a semi-final RWC round.

This final weekend of play will answer who’s playing whom, and, in one sense, the All Blacks’ defense of their RWC 2011 championship begins in the next match along with the world’s refocused media attention.