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Rugby World Cup Betting – New Zealand v France

It is arguably the biggest game of the Rugby World Cup so far as New Zealand meet France in a fascinating Pool A clash.

Both teams have won their opening two games and they sit joint top of the group with 10 points apiece. Something will have to give when they meet this weekend and to say everyone is excited about it would be an understatement.

France were the victims of a shock defeat to Argentina when they hosted Argentina back in 2007 and they will want to reverse their role against 2011 host nation New Zealand.

One thing the French have dismissed though is their willingness to lose the game. Their team selection has raised a few eyebrows and lead some to suggest that they would rather finish 2nd in the group.

After Ireland’s shock victory over Australia, the winner of Pool A will face a tougher route to the final than those who finish as runners-up.

However, French fly-half Dimitri Yachvili has spoken of his sides desire to continue their good recent form against those in an All Blacks World Cup Shirt.

He said: “We defeated them two years ago so why not again on Saturday?”

“If we go into Saturday's game thinking we will lose, we will get smashed. There is always pressure on you, but this is a group match, not a quarter-final. It is not the end, but we want to win every game.”

“The All Blacks are a dangerous side, but we have improved in our team games so far and there is more to come. Ireland showed how to best southern hemisphere opposition last week."

As for the team selection – France have by no means selected their strongest side to face the All Blacks – French defence coach Dave Ellis has stated that there is thinking behind their decisions.

He said: “The team has been picked on the form shown by players in the opening two games.”

It will certainly be fascinating to see how this one pans out on Saturday morning. The critics will be ready and waiting should an under strength France put in a poor performance.

2011 Rugby World Cup: Teams to reach Quarter-Finals odds

The Rugby World Cup reached the halfway stage today as Italy breezed past Russia, and while 20 games already done and dusted it is still all to play for in the race to make it out of the group stages and into the quarter finals.

Competition for qualification for the knockout stages is tight in both Pool B and C, with three teams gunning for two spots in both groups.

Betting favourites to qualify England have made a sluggish start to their campaign as they struggled to victories against Argentina and Georgia.  Martin Johnson’s side can secure their rout to the quarters with wins over minnows Romania and Scotland, a feat they should be expected to achieve fairly comfortably.

Both Argentina and Scotland are in hot pursuit and their game next week could prove to be the decider over who goes through with England, and interestingly the bookies are backing the Pumas to pip Andy  Robinson’s side to the final qualification spot.

Ladbrokes have Argentina at 8/13 and Scotland at 11/10 while England are 1/150, something the Scots may have something to say about given their solid start to the World Cup.

If they are to qualify, Scotland will have to address a poor record against the Pumas that has seen them win only four time in twelve meetings, although they have picked up two of those wins in the last two wins so it may be worth backing them.

Pool C is equally engrossing after Ireland turned the tournament on its head by defeating reigning Tri Nations champions Australia last weekend.

That puts them in pole position to qualify top of their group, although they face a tricky tie against Italy before they can start looking forward to the quarter finals.

The Azzurri looked in excellent form against Russia as they chalked up nine tries, and having come within seconds of claiming a famous victory over the Irish in the six nations earlier this year, they could spring an upset this time round. Nick Mallet’s side are 7/1 to make it through with Ladbrokes, and could be worth a few quid as an outside bet.

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