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Sam Cane's devastation was plain to see on the giant screen of the Stade de France as the New Zealand captain watched the South African bench run on to the pitch to celebrate the Springboks' record fourth World Cup title.
Cane missed the opening game against hosts France, which the All Blacks lost, and witnessed his team's second defeat of the tournament from the bench after becoming the first player to be sent off in a World Cup final earlier today (NZ time).
The flanker watched New Zealand's brave and sometimes brilliant second half in Paris and was left wondering what might have happened if he had not been shown a red card for a high tackle on Jesse Kriel.
Cane, however, did not make it about himself, praising those who were on either side of the field after the All Blacks lost 12-11.
"Obviously extremely gutted and disappointed. First of all that the team had to play the final with 14 men for the last 50-odd minutes," he said.
Handre Pollard had made it 12-3 for the Springboks but the defending champions did not score a single point afterwards.
"I thought the courage they showed out there tonight was incredible. The whole team are absolute warriors and, look, it's tough," added Cane, only the 11th All Black to be sent off in a rugby test.
"I'd like to say well done to South Africa - back to back. They've been a fantastic team, they've had a tough road to the final and they showed time and time again they find a way to win."
As rain fell heavily on the Stade de France, Cane stood in a long, black jacket when his South African counterpart Siya Kolisi lifted the Webb Ellis Cup, before leaving the pitch with his team mates as clouds of smoke from the fireworks filled the stadium.
"To come within a whisker of pulling it off... it's heartbreaking," All Blacks outgoing coach Ian Foster said pitchside at the end of the 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 the All Blacks to come so close when Cane was sent off after half an hour, penalised for the high tackle.
"It's gut-wrenching for him, frustrating for us," Foster said.
All Blacks red cards
Cyril Brownlee v England 1925 - Kicked an English player on the ground
Colin Meads v Scotland 1967 - Kicked Scotland five-eighth David Chisholm
Sonny Bill Williams v Lions 2017 - Connecting with his shoulder to the head of Lions wing Anthony Watson
Scott Barrett v Australia 2019 - Dangerous shoulder to the head of Wallabies captain Michael Hooper
Ofa Tu’angifasi v Australia 2020 - High contact on Wallabies winger Tom Wright
Jordie Barrett v Australia 2021 - Collecting Marika Koroibete in the head with boot
Brodie Retallick v Japan 2022 - Dangerous clean-out on loose forward Kazuki Himeno
Angus Ta’avao v Ireland 2022 - Colliding heads while attempting to tackle Ireland centre Garry Ringrose
Scott Barrett v South Africa 2023 - Two yellow cards
Ethan de Groot v Namibia 2023 - High contact on Namibian loose forward Adriaan Booysen
Sam Cane v South Africa 2023 - High tackle on Jesse Kriel
- source: NZ Herald