It was the result nobody predicted.
But despite their crushing 19-7 defeat to England in Saturday’s Rugby World Cup semi-final clash, the All Blacks, including Taranaki brothers Beauden, Jordie and Scott Barrett, impressed onlookers around the world by accepting Saturday night’s score with dignity.
Aaron Smith later spoke for a shattered All Blacks team after their shock Rugby World Cup exit. The feeling was they had let their nation down.
The experienced halfback, who tucked away his 91st test in the stunning 19-7 defeat to England at Yokohama’s International Stadium, was full of emotion after the New Zealanders’ first World Cup loss since their 2007 quarterfinal shocker in Cardiff.
It ended their hopes of an historic hat-trick of global crowns and propelled England into their first World Cup final since that ’07 tournament in France.
“I’m real gutted for New Zealand, real gutted for the boys in the room, and for the guys leaving. It’s just really disappointing,” Smith said.
In Taranaki, bars and clubs had been packed to the rafters for Saturday night’s highly anticipated clash.
While the majority of those gathered around the region to watch the match would have been picking the New Zealand side to come away victorious, the English, coached by Australian Eddie Jones, had different ideas.
Friendly banter was exchanged between rival fans throughout the game, and despite the loss bar owners and managers say the big crowds were generally well behaved.
In New Plymouth, Crowded House Bar and Eatery co-owner Kerry Simeon was at the pub to watch the game with a group of mates who were organising a friendly $5 sweepstake when they noticed an Englishman and his girlfriend walk by and encouraged them to join in.
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The couple eventually walked away extremely happy with an extra $120 in their pocket after the English claimed a 19-7 victory.
“I was wrapt to give the money away to him,” Simeon said.
The English couple then used their unexpected windfall to buy a round to help the Kiwis drown their sorrows.
Duty manager Rocky Vercoe said the pub had been packed.
“It was a massive crowd,” he said.
“It was a good vibe because we had a lot of English people in as well and there was a lot of friendly banter exchanged.”
The ferocity of the English attack had silenced the All Blacks supporters before half time though.
“They got pretty quiet.”
Vercoe said despite the end result no one was in a hurry to leave after the final whistle.
Across town, Peggy Gordon’s owner Bertie Burleigh said the match had drawn a full house with a 60-40 mix favouring the All Blacks.
However Burleigh said it became apparent early on that the men in black were not going to have things all their own way.
“Right from the haka they realised it wasn’t going to play out according to the script.”
He said the All Blacks were never out of the match and there was always potential they could snatch victory from the jaws of defeat so the crowd was kept on the edge of their seats.
“It was one of those epic encounters.”
The final result didn’t stop the crowd from hanging around after the final whistle.
“It really kicked on so we had a good night.”
Burleigh hoped the final would be all northern hemisphere with England taking on Wales.
Further out, at Fitzroy, The Fitz bar manager Max O’Leary said the game had attracted the biggest crowd of the World Cup so far.
“It was probably about 99 per cent Kiwi but there was the odd one cheering for the English but not many.”
However as the minutes ticked away the crowd became more despondent as realisation set in.
“They got more and more nervous and were eventually silenced by the English victory. It just died away.
“A few hung around but the majority up and went straight away.”