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All Blacks captain receives first ever men's World Cup final red card against South Africa

By Josh Raisey
Sam Cane of New Zealand looks dejected after an initial yellow card was upgraded to a red card following a TMO review during the Rugby World Cup Final match between New Zealand and South Africa at Stade de France on October 28, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by David Ramos - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

All Blacks captain Sam Cane has become the first player to ever receive a red card in a World Cup final for a high tackle on South Africa centre Jesse Kriel.

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The flanker was shown a yellow card by referee Wayne Barnes on 27 minutes for making contact with the head of the South Africa outside centre, but it was upgraded to red a few minutes later, forcing the All Blacks to play over 50 minutes of the final with at least 14 players.

Cane’s back row teammate Shannon Frizell had already been yellow carded earlier in the half for a dangerous clear out of South Africa hooker Bongi Mbonambi, which forced the South African off the field with a knee injury.

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Jacques Nienaber and Faf de Klerk explain the back-up plan for the Springboks if De Klerk goes down

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Jacques Nienaber and Faf de Klerk explain the back-up plan for the Springboks if De Klerk goes down

The All Blacks were trailing 9-3 when Cane was initially shown a yellow card, and it was upgraded just before Handre Pollard extended South Africa’s lead to 12-3. Even with a player down, New Zealand were able to claw a penalty back before hal-time, as the sides went in with the scores 12-6.

No8 Ardie Savea replaced Cane as captain for the remainder of the match.

Cane spoke in the build up to the match about getting the balance between the head and the heart right.

He said: “A lot of it comes down to our preparation. We’ve got a lot of experience in this squad and it would be silly not to tap into some of that. We’ve been really clear how we have built how we want to play as a team. In terms of head and strategy we’re in a good place and with that comes confidence. There will be a high level of emotion and intent to start the game well, there always is.

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“But we have played two knockout matches in a row and I trust we are in a good spot there. The boys have done a lot of physical and mental prep. Although it is a final, we just have to trust ourselves to go out there and play good footy.”

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