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Emotional Best Thanks Schmidt & Supporters After Final Ireland Game

Ireland’s Rugby World Cup campaign is over following a demoralising 46-14 defeat to New Zealand in Tokyo.

Joe Schmidt’s side were on the back foot from the off, as a clinical All Blacks side ran in two tries in the opening 20 minutes to leave Ireland with a huge uphill task.

Ireland did get two tries of their own towards the end. But the damage had already been done as New Zealand set-up a mouthwatering semi-final clash with England next week.

The loss marks the end of Rory Best’s 14-year international career. A clearly bittersweet Ireland captain spoke to World Rugby following the defeat and got choked up as the stadium erupted into noise as fans from both sides paid respects to the Ulster man.

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Best started by thanking the fans who created a red-hot atmosphere pre-game when drowning out the New Zealand Haka with the sound of the Fields of Athenry.

The Ireland captain then paid his respects to a clinical New Zealand outfit who had Ireland on the back foot from minute one.

“I suppose firstly, I’d just like to thank this unbelievable crowd. The Irish, as always, it started off with an incredible atmosphere, they were brilliant,” said Best.

“But the All Blacks were fantastic tonight, we prepared well. All week we felt we had a game plan, we felt we’d enough in our army to beat them. But they just started off, they came out of the blocks hard at us and put us on the back foot and like good sides do, they never let us get off that again.

“I think they were just really, really clinical, they didn’t let us get on the front foot. This is a front foot momentum game, especially in knockout rugby. And look, the boys that are here, they’ll have to look back at this and see how they can get better but I think just for this right now, you have to give enormous credit to the All Blacks, they were fantastic.”

When pressed on the occasion being his final game in an Ireland shirt, Best briefly held back tears as the crowd again raised the noise levels in the stadium.

“I’ve loved every minute of it,” said a clearly emotional Best.

“Look, I’ve loved every minute of it and like I said at the start, the crowd have been fantastic. The support that I’ve got from home, from the fans when we’re at home and when we’re away. My teammates and the coaching staff.

“In particular Joe (Schmidt) who’s moving on. He brought Irish rugby and probably my game in particular to a different level when he came here and a lot of credit must go to him and just a massive thanks to him.

“Good luck to Kieran (Read) and the All Blacks next week.”

New Zealand also paid tribute to the former Ireland captain.

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