Live now
Start time
Playing for
End time
Listen live
Up next
Listen live on

'Feels like it's not real': Devastated Sam Cane reflects on World Cup red card

Will Toogood,
Publish Date
Wed, 5 Jun 2024, 3:34pm

'Feels like it's not real': Devastated Sam Cane reflects on World Cup red card

Will Toogood,
Publish Date
Wed, 5 Jun 2024, 3:34pm

The All Blacks against their old foes the Springboks, a Rugby World Cup final; the stuff many a dream has been made of.

But that dream turned into a nightmare for then All Blacks captain, Sam Cane, as he became the first player to be red-carded in a Rugby World Cup final.

He was sent off for a yellow card that was upgraded after his shoulder made contact with Springboks centre Jesse Kriel in the 28th minute. Initially sent for 10 minutes in the bin, the tackle was reviewed and deemed a red by the TMO match official, Tom Foley.

The deciding factor in the decision appeared to be that Cane was very upright, with no bend in the tackle at all.

Cane has now spoken about the emotions and thoughts than ran through him after receiving the card on NZR+ series All Blacks In Their Own Words.

“It feels like it’s not real, to be honest,” the 32-year-old said.

“You really just can’t grasp the shock that you’re under sitting in that chair. Just the overwhelming feeling that I’ve let my teammates down when they needed me the most.”

The tackle in question saw Kriel turn back into Cane’s path, catching him somewhat flat-footed in an upright tackle.

Cane said that after the split-second moment he had a feeling the tackle might earn him a card of some colour.

“Jesse’s done a full U-turn and ended up running back towards me. I was caught off guard a bit, it was quite an upright tackle. Then, yeah, sure enough they stop play and [give a] yellow card.”

The 95-test All Black appears overcome with emotion as he recounts what was going through his head after making his way to the sin bin chair, and hearing the news his tackle had been deemed red card-worthy.

“Then the sideline referee came over and just said; ‘it’s going to be upgraded to a red’.

“Even now just saying those words. I just feel the tension. I suppose that sense of shock that I encountered in that moment hits me again now.

“All of a sudden I’m in this sin bin chair, turn my shoulder and all of our families are right there. I can look my parents in the eye, who have supported me for so long and come over here to support me.

“My wife, my sisters, the other boys’ families who you’ve got to know closely over a long period of time and just the overwhelming feeling of ‘I’ve let my teammates down, when they needed me the most’.”

Controversy continues to surround a similar incident involving Springboks captain Siya Kolisi in the final.

With the All Blacks firmly on the back foot, Kolisi turned the contest five minutes into the second half with a tackle on Ardie Savea. Kolisi’s head clattered into Savea’s to earn him a yellow card that could have resulted in two captains being sent off in a World Cup final.

On review, the TMO found mitigation that did not upgrade Kolisi to a red.

The All Blacks went on to lose the final 12-11 to the Springboks, who in that moment became the first nation to lift four men’s Rugby World Cups.

Cane has since announced that he will call time on his international career at the end of the 2024 season in order to take up a contract with Japanese side Suntory Sungoliath, as the veteran loose forward concedes he won’t captain New Zealand in 2024.

“A good opportunity came my way with Suntory Sungoliath willing to offer me a three-year contract,” Cane said.

“It was something we had to seriously consider as a family due to the stage I am at in my career. It will see me through to 2027, when I’ll have my 35th birthday.

“I had to weigh up everything and in the end, with a young family, it seemed like the best decision to help set up our future. It was a very hard one because I love the teams that I represent here in New Zealand.

“We obviously love this country, we love being around friends and family but we ultimately made the decision to sign with Suntory, which we’re really excited about. We have enjoyed our first year there and we just thought it was the best thing for our young family.”

Will Toogood is an Online Sports Editor for the NZ Herald. He has previously worked for Newstalk ZB’s digital team and at Waiheke’s Gulf News covering sports and events.

Take your Radio, Podcasts and Music with you