For those nations with a hope of winning the Rugby World Cup, a particular level of consistency is the key.

Once the team emerges from the pool stage, three matches are all that stand between them and World Cup glory, and there is little room for error.

Speaking to Radio Sport's Jim Kayes, All Blacks legend Richie McCaw said to win those three matches is much easier said than done.

"It's one of the hardest things to do in sport, to back up big performance after big performance," the two-time World Cup winning captain said.


"The big thing is being able to put together three good games in a row and not drop your standard even a little bit. With the depth of what the All Blacks have got, that's an advantage - but it doesn't guarantee you a lot."

McCaw was a part of three World Cup campaigns, the first of which being in 2007 when the All Blacks were eliminated in the quarter-finals by France. It was the All Blacks' earliest exit from a World Cup, but was followed by back-to-back title-winning campaigns.

With the luxury of being able to sit back and enjoy the action as a fan of the game this time around, McCaw said he believed there were a handful of teams who were all capable of taking this year's title.

It shapes up as one of the most tightly contested World Cup tournaments in recent years, with the recent movement in the world rankings reinforcing that.

Ireland go into the tournament ranked as the No 1 team in the world, however both Wales and the All Blacks have held that title in the past month. While they were unable to claim it, England have also had the opportunity to move to the top of the rankings in the lead up to the tournament.

"There's at least half a dozen teams all capable of beating each other, you've seen that over the last couple of Six Nations and even some of the warm-up games, they've all sort of had a crack at each other and it'd be hard to say who should win games."

The All Blacks begin their campaign on Saturday with a blockbuster against South Africa which will likely decide the winner of their pool.

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