All Blacks: It 'hurts' to call Boks champs

Ian Foster, Sam Cane and the New Zealand team have shared their emotions after a narrow defeat to the Springboks in the 2023 Rugby World Cup final.

The South Africans produced a defensive effort for the ages to claim a 12-11 win in Paris to retain the Webb Ellis Cup for the first time as well as become the first team to win four World Cup titles.

The All Blacks became the first side to be reduced to 14 players in a World Cup final when captain Cane saw red in the first half, but surged back after going into the break trailing by six points.

However, the defending champions saw off one last attack from the New Zealanders and held their nerve at the final scrum to bring an end to a thrilling clash.

Speaking in the fourth and final episode of In Their Own Words 2, Cane and former head coach Foster opened up on their feelings after the final whistle at Stade de France.

"I probably just wanted to get the hell out of there, to be honest," Cane said. "I just wanted to escape to the sheds.

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"But I also wanted to give my teammates a hug… what a helluva team effort."

"You're watching the other team celebrate and get what they want out of it [the match] but I do remember seeing a lot of our heads high," Foster added.

"There were tears, but they were tears from upright faces."

Aaron Smith, who played his 124th and final Test that night, noted: "We were one kick away from winning. Everyone was really proud of the effort, and of what we did, but it doesn't take away the feeling of we lost."

"You want to be humble in victory and humble in defeat, so you give them [the Boks] the credit that they deserve and earned," loose forward Dalton Papalii said.

"'Congrats, you know, you're world champs' and even though it hurts to say that, it’s just respect. You got to give it.

"For us to go through that whole game being on the back foot, having a man down, all those factors playing into it… I've never been prouder to be an All Black in my life.

"We went through hell and we almost made it."

Photo: Juan Jose Gasparini/Gallo Images

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