All Blacks coach Steve Hansen says there are no excuses for his side’s World Cup semi-final defeat by England, and gave due credit to the performance of Eddie Jones’ men.
England bullied the All Blacks at the set piece and breakdown, forcing the defending world champions into numerous errors, to claim a famous upset win. England advance to next week’s decider – their first since 2007 – where they will face the winner of Sunday’s second semi-final between Wales and the Springboks in Yokohama.
The All Blacks’ winning run at the World Cup has now come to an end, having last lost at the quarter-final stage of the 2007 World Cup. They will contest the third and fourth playoff game, as they did in 1999 and 2003, in Tokyo next Friday.
Hansen said that he was proud of the effort shown by his players but acknowledged that his team were not able to get their game going, thanks to England’s relentless physicality and line speed in defence.
‘Firstly, congratulations to England. I think they were deserved winners tonight,’ said a disappointed Hansen post-game.
‘You had two very good sides going at each other and the team that took the game won the game. We’ve got no regrets, I’m very proud of the All Blacks. Tonight we got beaten by a better side. I wish England the best for what’s ahead of them.’
An assistant to former coach Graham Henry when the All Blacks were dumped out of the World Cup in controversial circumstances by the France 12 years ago, Hansen was asked if that defeat could be compared to the loss to England.
‘Having been here in 2007, it’s disappointing. There’s nothing else you can say about that,’ continued Hansen. ‘The big difference is we stepped up to the plate today. We played as well as we could, we just got beaten by a better team so we’ve got to take that on the chin.
‘No loss is easy to take. The only reason it’s slightly better is that it was semis rather than quarters. The boys are desperately hurting as are the management.
‘They’re a good team, there’s no shame in losing to them. Doesn’t stop you from hurting but you have to accept what sport has chucked at you.’
Photo: EPA/Frank Robichon/BackpagePix