The mood was heavy as New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen sat down for his post-match press conference following his side’s shock 19-7 loss to England.
The reigning world champions were entirely dominated by Eddie Jones’ side who scored their opening try after just 98 seconds while New Zealand were held scoreless in the opening half.
Hansen, who will step away following next week’s third-place play-off against either Wales or South Africa, was suitably gracious in defeat and opened his remarks by giving full credit to his opponents.
“First of all I would like to congratulate England, they played a tremendous game of footy and on the day deserved to win the game. You can’t give them half a step because they’ll take it and, at the end of the day, that’s what rugby is about and well done to them.”
“I’m really proud of our team, they have done a tremendous job for their country and just tonight we weren’t good enough so we have to take that on the chin and so does everybody back home, our fans – all credit to England.
“You saw the boys, at the end they were still trying their guts out and that’s all you can ask, so really proud of them – and thanks to Japan for a wonderful, wonderful tournament, really appreciate it.”
However, Hansen was quick to take offence when a journalist questioned captain Kieran Read on the player’s hunger and asked if they got their mentality right on the day.
“I think it’s quite a disrespectful question to suggest that the All Blacks turned up not hungry,” Hansen quipped.
“They’re desperate to win the game – just because I’ve asked them at halftime to get hungrier doesn’t mean they didn’t turn up to be hungry.
“There’s a big difference and if you want to spend some time outside, I’ll give you a rugby education on that one.
“To turn up and say that an All Blacks team comes to a semi-final of the Rugby World Cup with the amount of ability and the history that it’s had behind it – that’s a pretty average question, I reckon.”