Sam Cane, the All Blacks’ captain, says he is “pleasantly surprised” by the support he has received from New Zealand rugby fans since Saturday after the red card he received during the final in France.
Cane made history on Saturday during New Zealand’s 12-11 defeat against South Africa when he became the very first player to receive a red card in a Rugby World Cup final.
A small crowd of supporters awaited the All Blacks on their arrival at Auckland Airport on Wednesday.
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) November 1, 2023
Cane says the level of well wishes from All Black supporters during the tournament in France was overwhelming.
“The support is something I haven’t experienced as an All Black,” Cane told reporters. “It’s the best I’ve ever experienced and it was from halfway around the world.
“I said before the final it was overwhelming. And let me put it this way, I’m pleasantly surprised with the support after the final too.
“I felt like I let a lot of people down and think that support definitely helped. I appreciate all the kind words on a personal level. It means a lot.”
The 31-year-old captain appeared shocked during the final when the yellow card he initially received for a high tackle on Jesse Kriel was changed to a red card.
Ardie Savea, who was named World Rugby’s player of the year on Sunday, says it was a “bittersweet” moment when supporters waited for the All Blacks at the airport without the Webb Ellis trophy.
Savea relived the final during the flight home. “Replaying the game in your head, which is normal after losing a really big one – it will hurt for a while.”
Outgoing head coach Ian Foster says he is “immensely proud” of the team’s journey to the final.
The 58-year-old coach refused to comment on whether he was interested in the Wallaby coaching job. This position is vacant after Eddie Jones resigned earlier this week.