New Zealanders' confidence in the All Blacks' ability to beat France in crucial rugby matches appears to have taken a hit, if figures supplied by the TAB are anything to go by.
When the two nations squared off in a World Cup quarterfinal in Cardiff in 2007, the All Blacks' odds of winning at the TAB were $1.14 and 93 per cent of money wagered was slapped on the men in black. In fact, the All Blacks played in a silver change strip and were beaten 20-18.
Four years later when the nations met in the world cup final, the odds were even more heavily in the All Blacks' favour, with the host nation a $1.10 favourite. However, in that match the percentage of money wagered on the All Blacks dropped to 83 per cent. The All Blacks were widely tipped to win by around 15 points, but eventually clung on to win by one point.
The defeat in 2007 in Cardiff, a semifinal loss in 1999 at Twickenham and the close call at Eden Park appears to have rattled the confidence of punters heading into tomorrow morning's Cardiff quarterfinal rematch, with the All Blacks at the longer odds ($1.16) and a declining percentage of money backing them.
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The way things are tracking, TAB media manager Mark Stafford said, by kickoff at 8.00am on Sunday just 75 per cent of money wagered would be backing an All Blacks win - a decline of 18 percentage points from the 2007 upset. The actual number of wagers placed on each team was very nearly 50-50, Stafford said.
"What you can take from that is that big bets are on New Zealand, but there are just as many bets on France as there are on New Zealand."
There wasn't really any justification for the pessimism about the All Blacks' chances, Stafford said.
"There is far too much emphasis being placed on 2007 - a game that was eight years ago." In terms of more recent results, the All Blacks had beaten France eight times in a row, including the world cup final - even if the result was a nail biter. Despite their nerves Kiwis wouldn't be put off betting on the match.
"This will probably be our biggest turnover match of the tournament so far. While $1.16 doesn't turn on your $10 and $20 punter, [other betting options] will. It might be Sonny Bill Williams to score the last try because they can see that coming, or Julian Savea to return to form and score two tries. I think there will be a lot of in-game betting."