British gambler says flu almost cost him and the All Blacks at 2011 Rugby World Cup

A professional British gambler has revealed how he lost millions on the All Blacks at the 2007 World Cup, and claims Steve Hansen told him that many of the team who won the 2011 final were suffering from the flu.

The 2011 Rugby World Cup turned out very well for Harry Findlay.

He wagered $420,000 on the All Blacks to lift the Webb Ellis Trophy on home soil, and profited by $380,000.

But France almost pulled a huge upset in the 2011 final at Auckland's Eden Park, as the All Blacks scraped home to win by a single point.

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Speaking to The Guardian in conjunction with the release of his new book, Gambling For Life Harry Findlay shared a piece of information via then-assistant turned head coach Hansen that may explain why the All Blacks did it so tough.

"I remember going to a steam bath afterwards. I sat for 40 minutes in the steam thinking: 'F...... hell. One penalty and I'd have lost $364,000 grand and a big chunk of my wealth.' I had a drink with Steve Hansen three days later and he said: 'We were f......' No one knew this but he told me that half the team had flu that day."

Harry 'The Dog' Findlay has won more than $36m punting on sport over the years, but it was his love for the All Blacks that drove him to his biggest loss.

Findlay explained what he went through after betting £2.5 million ($4.56m) on Sir Graham Henry's side to win the 2007 World Cup.

Having booked a box at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff to watch what most rugby fans thought would be a straightforward win over France in the quarterfinal, all was going well with New Zealand leading 13-3 at halftime.

But Findlay had a nagging feeling that the "mercurial French might drive him to the brink".

And, like all good gamblers do, he looked to cover some of his losses, placing another bet that reduced his exposure to a mere $3.46m.

As we all know now, he was right to be concerned.

"Dread churned inside Findlay when France were 18-13 down," The Guardian wrote. "They then scored a try from a forward pass allowed by the referee, Wayne Barnes. France led 20-18 and two million pounds were torched."

Barnes became public enemy No 1 among All Blacks supporters following that match.

Findlay knew exactly how they were feeling but insists he has since moved on.

"Wayne Barnes? I hated him like a Kiwi for a long time," he added. "But I watched Barnes do a game this year and I'd never seen refereeing like it. He was great."

 - Stuff