The morning after the night before and the All Blacks are struggling to suppress raw emotions attached to their World Cup semifinal defeat.
At the end of their 19-7 loss to England in Yokohama, many players slumped to the turf with disappointment and dread.
Players were laid out across the field, many not knowing how to react.
Steve Hansen eventually wandered off to the side of the field where he made a phone call.
He then spoke with former All Blacks coach Graham Henry and centre Conrad Smith.
Asked today who he called, Hansen needed to compose himself to prevent an emotional response that would lead television bulletins for days to come.
“I rang my wife,” Hansen said, pausing to take a sip of water in order to give himself a moment to suppress the overwhelming sadness. “And we had a bit of a chat.
“I then talked to Ted [Henry] and Conrad about ’07 and we mentioned the fact it’s no different, the same gutting feeling.
“Then Ted and I talked about how well George Ford had played. Ted had quite a few comments and I did a bit of listening, trying to do a bit of learning, and then you just move on don’t you?
“Is it hard to stomach? Course it is. It’s gut-wrenching because we wanted to win the thing but so did they. Life’s not fair so when would sport be fair. You don’t always get the thing you want. And when you don’t you’ve got to measure your character on how you deal with that.
“What comes out of a tournament like this, and it’s unique because it’s knockout and you don’t get a second chance, so the pain isn’t alleviated by playing another test next week.
“Whoever we play next week won’t alleviate the pain that we haven’t achieved what we wanted to which was come here and win it. You’ve got to bank that and sit back and learn the lessons.
“We’ll do that when the tournament finishes, about what we could have done better.”
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) October 27, 2019
All Blacks captain Kieran Read experienced a similar moment at last night’s post-match press conference when asked about whether his men turned up with the right attitude.
Today the scar above Read’s right eye began to heal but those on the inside were again laid bare as he spoke with a lump in his throat while reflecting on the devastating result that forces him to contest a third and fourth playoff in his final test.
“It’s pretty empty. It’s not what we came here for, that’s the reality of it. It’s not going to define us as a group or who we are,” he said.
“There’s no two ways around it that you’re really gutted but I’m sure there’s a lot of people in that same boat with us and going through those emotions. We feel for them as well.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) October 26, 2019
“As the leader, you look at ways you could have done things differently but that’s all hindsight. It’s not going to affect your emotions right now. It’s not going to change the fact we lost. I’m proud of the effort and character.”
Read was particularly emotional when he arrived back at the team hotel.
“The fact it was my birthday so to get back to the hotel and there were cards from my kids waiting for me. That puts things in perspective. It’s a rugby game. People care, we care, so you enjoy moments. For me, I’m a dad and first and foremost that’s the thing I want to be remembered by.”
All Blacks fans weren’t quite as shocked as Steve Hansen after their side’s loss to England:
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