Several All Blacks supporters waiting for their team to arrive at Heathrow Airport were left disappointed late last night when they failed to come through the arrivals hall, instead being whisked out a side entrance.
Kiwi Paul Le Comte and his sons Jamie, 12, and Charlie, 9, waited for more than two hours after arriving on a flight from Canada.
Mr Le Comte, based in Dunedin, said he was "gutted" at what appeared to be the airport's decision to divert the squad from the main arrivals area.
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All Black Sam Cane shared a video of the Air New Zealand ground staff performing a haka prior to take off, providing the squad with a fitting send off.
Thank you to the New Zealand public and the Air New Zealand staff for the wicked send off! Very excited to start this journey! #RWC2015Posted by Sam Cane on Thursday, September 10, 2015
He tweeted the official Heathrow Airport account and was told: "Unfortunately, the team won't be coming through the arrivals hall. Here's where you can meet them..." before giving details of the team's official welcome at the Tower of London later in the day.
The Le Comte family, about to hire a car to drive to Liverpool, weren't able to make it.
Sisters Renee and Lauren Chapman, from Timaru and Dunedin respectively, were also disappointed. The pair are travelling around the United Kingdom and Europe and decided to make the journey to the airport to welcome the team to London.
The Highlanders fans said they wouldn't be attending any World Cup matches because the tickets were too expensive.
The All Blacks must hit the ground running in terms of their official commitments at the Rugby World Cup.
After their long flight from Auckland via Los Angeles, admittedly in business class, the team were late last night scheduled to travel into the centre of London from Heathrow, drop their bags and possibly unpack, and then be whisked to the official opening ceremony in the well-manicured grounds of the famous Tower of London.
It will be a far cry from their last official welcome at a World Cup - at Auckland's Aotea Square, where they took the stage to cheers and screams from the packed public support, most of whom were wearing black.
For many of the players, even the senior ones, it was the first time they felt the expectation of the public, and appreciated that they were about to be part of something special.
This time they will take the stage with a famous backdrop and likely the stares of curious tourists along with the assembled dignitaries. In any case, the home of the Crown Jewels it is likely to be a fitting way for them to start their defence of their title.
Afterwards, skipper Richie McCaw and coach Steve Hansen will have the first of many press conferences they will be involved in over the next two months or so.
Fiji, the All Blacks' South Pacific cousins, were the first team to receive an official World Cup welcome, and the formalities were held in the grounds of Hampton Court Palace, in west London.
Dan Carter meets fans at the Tower of London. Photo / Brett Phibbs
The Fijians, resplendent in green trousers, sang a traditional prayer song which impressed tourists and gathered media alike.
Afterwards, giant wing Nemani Nadolo, who plays for the Crusaders, said the aim of his team, who will competed in the so-called Pool of Death with England, Australia and Wales, was to "shock the world".
Fiji v England next Saturday NZT is the first game of the tournament.
"This is definitely the highlight of my career," Nadolo said. "Hopefully I can get picked in that first game and we can shock the world. Compared to some of the big countries, we don't have the facilities but we play a lot for each other. That is what we are bringing over here. We know what we are playing for. We are playing for the people back home."