Rugby World Cup: All Blacks captain Sam Cane laments historic red card in World Cup defeat

All Blacks captain Sam Cane admits his red card in the World Cup final will haunt him for the rest of his life.

Cane was shown a yellow card for his high shot on Springboks midfielder Jesse Kriel in the 28th minute at Stade de France and was later upgraded to a red by TV match official Tom Foley in a game-changing decision that left the New Zealanders shorthanded for the rest of the contest.

The flanker was forced to watch on from the sidelines, as his team defied their one-man deficit to stay in the match until the very last minute, as the Springboks clinched a 12-11 win to become the first nation to win the Webb Ellis Cup four times.

"So much hurt right now," reflected Cane. "It's actually hard to find the words to explain it.

"It's hard, because you're feeling so much hurt, but at the same time, you're proud of the group and how they fought back, and really gave themselves a good shot at winning that game.  

"I think it speaks volumes for the group as a whole. They're a fantastic group of men, who care so much about playing for the All Blacks, who care so much about making New Zealand proud.

"There's a lot of heartbreak in the sheds right now. It's hard."

Sam Cane.
Sam Cane. Photo credit: Getty Images

Cane missed the opening defeat against hosts France through injury and witnessed his team's second defeat of the tournament from the bench, after becoming the first player sent off in a World Cup final.

The devastation was clear on his face, as he was informed pitchside that his yellow had become red, with Foley finding no clear mitigating factors in the shoulder-to-head contact.

"At the time, I wasn’t even aware," Cane explained. "It sort of caught me offguard, the way he stepped back, but we've been at this tournament for three months now and anything around the head has ramifications.

"I'm not here to discuss whether it's right wrong or what happened. It can't be changed, but it's something, unfortunately, I'm going to have to live with forever." 

Coach Ian Foster refuses to direct any blame in Cane's direction.

"I think we've all seen the way Sam's contributed to the game, to our team behind the scenes," said Foster. "He's been fantastic and worthy of being captain of the All Blacks, which is a fantastic honour and a privilege.

"I think he's carried that magnificently well and I'm incredibly proud of him, proud to coach him. It's a tough old day at the office when that happens and you feel a lot of emotion.

"Unfortunately, I don't feel we got the rub of the green in that first half, so we had to try and make our own luck, but that was one that went against us."

Foster is reluctant to elaborate on the impact of the officials in a game that featured four cards, but hinted at some inconsistency between Cane's dismissal and the head-to-head contact form 'Boks captain Siya Kolisi that was deemed unworthy of a red-card upgrade.

"I really don't want the game to be about us talking about red cards," said Foster. "It is what it is.  

"There was an attempt to wrap. It didn't seem to be a lot of force in the contact.  

"The hit on Ardie had a lot of force going into that contact and had a direct contact on the head, so the game's got a few issues it's got to sort out. That's not sour grapes, but you've got two different situations with different variables, and one is a red card and one is a yellow card."