Steve Hansen has revealed that the New Zealand and England coaching teams reflected on a remarkable World Cup semi-final over a few beers.
Eddie Jones’ men completed a breathtaking 19-7 victory over the reigning champions at International Stadium Yokohama by delivering a performance that has shaken up the global order.
Despite the pain of defeat still being so raw, Hansen and his tracksuit lieutenants met with their England counterparts once hostilities had ceased.
“There was a lot of respect from both sides. Eddie was particularly mindful of how I was feeling and I was quite encouraging of what they have to do next,” Hansen said.
“The nice thing was that some of their guys came into our shed and our coaching group went down to their shed and shared a beer.
“The game has moved on a heck of a lot from its traditions, but it’s only a game. Sport can teach you a lot. It was nice to share a beer with them.”
Hansen was gracious immediately after New Zealand had suffered their first World Cup defeat since 2007 and the following day he continued to applaud England’s brutal simplicity.
“It didn’t take us by surprise, we knew we were in for a hell of a battle,” the All Blacks boss said.
“This England team hasn’t just snuck up and poked us in the face. They won 18 games in a row and there’s only one other team that’s done that in the history of the game (New Zealand) and that makes them a formidable side.
“We played them at Twickenham last year and managed to win by a point. It was a titanic struggle.
“They were coming into this tournament over the last four years with a massive amount of pain themselves – the massive adversity of not even making the quarter-finals of their own tournament hurt them.
“They don’t play a sophisticated game. Win the ball, give it to a big bloke and run hard. Win the collision and get over the gain-line.
“That’s rugby in its simplistic form, but it’s beautiful as well. They use their big men to their full extent.
“When you win the collision, you go forward, and the game has never changed from the first time it was played until today.
“If you’re going forward, you will win the game. They won those collisions.
“They’ve been working and working their butts off, probably more than any other England team in history.
“We got what we expected and we just have to acknowledge that on the night, they did things a little better than we did.”
Hansen and captain Kieran Read will step down from their posts once Friday’s bronze medal match is completed.
“When you get knocked over, your character’s going to be questioned and you have a choice,” Hansen said.
“Do I stand up and wear my big man’s pants, or do I stay down and wear my little boy pants?
“We’re going to try to stand up and represent our country again with pride and dignity and execute as well as we possibly can and try to get a result.”