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Canadian players wowed by touching gesture: 'It's huge, it's an honour'

NZ Herald

The All Blacks have once again shown why they are the nice guys at the Rugby World Cup, with Canada left touched by their gratitude after the All Blacks’ 63-0 win on Wednesday.

After the clash, the All Blacks invited the Canadians into their dressing rooms, a gesture that their opponents described as “a huge honour.”

“We wanted to earn their respect through the way we played, and them inviting us in was a token of respect for us”, said Peter Nelson after he swapped jerseys with All Black first five Richie Mo’unga.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, as well as skipper Kieran Read, reached out to Canucks after the two sides thanked the crowd in Oita.

“I saw Steve after the game and he said, ‘If you guys want, come grab a beer with us after and say hi’,” said Canada captain Tyler Ardron, who plays for the Chiefs and Bay of Plenty.

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“I went over straight after and swapped jerseys with Kieran and he mentioned it again, so I got the whole team to go over.”

Canada prop Jake Ilnicki, who said visiting the opposition dressing room was rare, got the opportunity to exchange jerseys with his opposite, Nepo Laulala.

“He was a bit hesitant because he said he normally keeps his jerseys to give back to his community, which is something I do as well. He said he doesn’t normally swap, but he felt he had to at the end of that game, which was pretty cool to get that respect from him.”

The players enjoyed some laughs after the hard-fought game, including poking some fun at All Blacks lock Scott Barrett after he knocked the ball on over the line when attempting to score a try.

“We laughed about how tired we all were because the same thing happened when we had the ball,” Ardron said. “It was just a laugh.”

Canada second-rower Josh Larsen said: “I had a talk to Scott after the game and we had a bit of a joke about it. The others were giving him a bit of a stick and I think the second one that he did score, he almost fumbled it, too.”

Richie Mo'unga and Peter Nelson

Richie Mo’unga and Peter Nelson swapped jerseys after the 2019 World Cup match between New Zealand and Canada. (Photo by Hannah Peters / Getty Images)

Larsen, who grew up playing rugby in New Zealand, got to swap jerseys with childhood teammate Jack Goodhue.

“They were very welcoming, a humble group,” he said. “We shared our thoughts on the game. They were interested in North American rugby, what players do on this side of the world.

“That’s the beautiful thing about rugby – enemies on the field and then friends off it. There’s still that camaraderie and humbleness to the whole thing.”

“It’s huge, it’s an honour,” said Canada’s Lucas Rumball of the All Blacks’ hospitality. “It shows how hard we worked and how we’re growing as a team.”

This article first appeared on nzherald.co.nz and is republished with permission.

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Canadian players wowed by touching gesture: 'It's huge, it's an honour'