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29th Oct 2023

“It’s something I’m going to have to live with forever.” – Sam Cane barely finds the words in post-match interview

Niall McIntyre

New Zealand captain Sam Cane was sent off in the 28th minute of their Rugby World Cup final loss to South Africa.

Having initially been sent to the bunker, the TMO intervened to upgrade the flanker’s card to red, earning him an unwanted piece of history in the process.

For his head-high tackle on South African centre Jesse Kriel, Cane became the first player ever to receive a red card in a Rugby World Cup final.

Cane’s team-mates battled on gamely in his absence and a Beauden Barrett try reduced the arrears to one point for the closing 20 minutes.

But South Africa held out to win by 12-11, each of the Springboks’ points having come from the boot of the dead-eyed Handre Pollard, who ends his World Cup having nailed all of the 13 kicks he has taken.

Afterwards, it was heart-break for New Zealand. Many of their players were in tears throughout the trophy presentation and it was in his post-match interview when Cane said that, despite his pride, this is something that will live with him ‘for the rest of his life.’

“We’ve been at this tournament for two months now and anything around the head has ramifications,” said Cane, refusing to offer up any excuses.

“I’m not here to discuss whether it’s right, wrong or whatever,” he added.

“It’s something that can’t be changed, and something, unfortunately, that I’m going to have to live with, forever.”

“There’s so much hurt right now that it’s hard to find the words to explain it,” added the 31-year-old Chiefs player.

“I’m so proud of the group at the same time, and how they fought back and really gave themselves a good shot at winning that game.

“I think it speaks volumes about them. They’re a fantastic group of men who care so much about playing for the All Blacks and making New Zealand proud.

“It’s hard,” he concluded.

Coach Ian Foster hailed his captain and said that the spirit the team showed after his dismissal is a spirit he has helped create.

“I think we’ve all seen the way Sam has contributed to our team. He’s carried the captaincy magnificently well and I’m incredibly proud of him, and proud to coach him.

“It’s a tough old day at the office when that happens. He’ll be feeling a lot of emotions.”

Cane’s team-mate Rieko Ioane, meanwhile, refused to blame him and says that, as a team, they will rally around him.

“That game tonight wasn’t lost tonight with Sammy’s red card,” Ioane said. “We definitely had our moments out there, and if we were to capitalise on a better day, we might have got a better flip of the coin.

“But tonight wasn’t our night and as for Sammy, I am sure he is feeling it but the boys will get around him.”


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