When the All Blacks lose, New Zealand cycles through the seven stages of grief.
After the team’s shock semi-final defeat to England, the country’s biggest newspaper blacked out its front page.
The prime minister felt compelled to defend the team’s honour.
And a Union Jack-painted car had its windows smashed.
The All Blacks arrived in Japan last month as healthy favourites, gunning for a third-straight World Cup to cement the country’s indisputable place as the world’s best.
Leading into Saturday night, there were 12-year-old Kiwis that had had never seen their national heroes lose a World Cup match.
But against the English, the Kiwis couldn’t break through an inspired defence, losing 19-7 to begin a country-wide malaise.
“Utter bummer,” broadcaster John Campbell wrote on Twitter, summing up the national mood.
The Herald on Sunday‘s front page was all black, apart from a paragraph in tiny, white lettering in the middle of the page reading: The All Blacks are out of the World Cup. If you want to read more, go to the sports section.
Jacinda Ardern, who was steadfast in her prediction the All Blacks would reach the final, said “this is our team and I’m proud of them”.
“The All Blacks represented us both on the field, and off the field as ambassadors too. While tonight it’s congratulations to the side from England, I want to say thank you to the All Blacks. You’re our team,” she posted on Instagram.
"Sometimes you might find sport's not fair, but tonight it was, we got beaten by a better side"
Steve Hansen assesses the #RWC2019 semifinal loss to England.
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) October 27, 2019
Movie star Sam Neill staked a claim for the All Blacks to remain the world’s No.1 side irrespective of the tournament outcome.
“Even the World’s Greatest (and they are) lose once in a while. Well done England,” he tweeted.
The despair turned to violence on at least one occasion.
The owner of English-themed Auckland pub, The Patriot, had the windows of his Union Jack-painted car smashed in, taking to Facebook to vent his frustration.
“Come on Kiwis, we are better than that. It’s only a game,” the post read.
“We have our suspicions that possibly it was 2-3 young men dressed in AB shirts, who took exception to some of our English patrons slightly roarkus (sic) celebrations were involved.”
— Stuff (@NZStuff) October 26, 2019
The Rugby World Cup loss comes off the back of the Black Caps tasting a most sour defeat in the cricket World Cup final to England in July.
New Zealand’s male cricketers were denied their first stint as world champions, equalling England’s score after both 50 overs and the super over, only to lose to the extraordinary boundary countback rule.
At least in the country’s netballers, New Zealanders can say they boast world champions.
The Silver Ferns returned to the sport’s summit in July, beating Australia by a point in a nail-biting World Cup final and on Sunday they take on the Diamonds again in the final of the Constellation Cup in Perth.
The Silver Ferns are leading the series 2-1 but have to win the final game to claim the cup for the first time in seven years, due to the Diamonds holding a six-goal advantage on the goal difference tiebreaker.