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Retiring captain Rory Best paid an emotional tribute to Ireland after a clinical performance from New Zealand ended their World Cup dream in Tokyo.
Aaron Smith scored two of the All Blacks’ seven tries in a comprehensive 46-14 quarter-final victory to set up a semi-final showdown against England.
Defeat against the back-to-back champions signalled the end of Best’s international career, while head coach Joe Schmidt will be leaving his role.
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Best, 37, struggled to hold back tears in his post-match pitchside interview. “I would just like to thank this unbelievable Irish crowd. It started off with an incredible atmosphere and they were brilliant,” he said.
“But the All Blacks were fantastic tonight. We felt we prepared well all week, we felt we had a game plan, we felt we had enough in our armoury to beat them.
“They just started off out of the blocks hard at us, put us on the back foot and, like good sides do, they never let us get off that again.”
Best paid tribute to the efforts of Schmidt to help move Irish rugby forward.
“I have loved every minute of it, the support I have got from the fans home and away and the coaching staff,” he said onITV1. “Joe
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