The questions were perhaps redundant. What could the shattered All Blacks say after they had left so much on the field in Saturday’s 12-11 Rugby World Cup final loss to South Africa?
Playing more than half the match a man down, New Zealand were a hair’s breadth from snatching the World Cup back from defending champions South Africa, but fell agonisingly short, watching their great rivals move alone at the top of the tree with four titles to their name.
“To come within a whisker of pulling it off… it’s heartbreaking,” New Zealand’s outgoing coach Ian Foster said pitchside at the end of a pulsating and fluctuating clash.
“I’m proud of our guys, to go down to that red card so early and fight our way back and give ourselves a chance is pretty special. I don’t think it went wrong in any clear (way), it was a real arm wrestle, both teams had their moments… I’m incredibly proud of the way we fought.”
It was a titanic battle between the sport’s two heavyweights, and the fight was juddering. Few could have expected New Zealand to come so close when their captain Sam Cane was sent off after half an hour, penalised for a high tackle.
“It’s gut-wrenching for him, frustrating for us,” Foster said.
Gut-wrenching it was and Cane was distraught.
“Extremely gutted,” he said, seemingly hollow with disappointment as he stood expressionless on the side of the Stade de France pitch as the Springboks celebrated. – Reuters