Rugby World Cup: `Four years of mourning'

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THE FORMER All Black Grant Fox said New Zealand fans will go into mourning after their defeat by France.

"We go into mourning now for four years," Fox, a leading member of the 1980s and 1990s All Blacks, said on New Zealand television. "This is something that will knock the election off the front page." The country holds a general election at the end of November.

Most Kiwis got up in the early hours of the morning to watch the game,which began at 4am local time. Rugby is far and away the most popular the sport in the country and it is routine for many Kiwis to watch television matches from Europe in the middle of the night.

A former New Zealand captain, Sean Fitzpatrick, who was working for British television, concurred with Fox.

"Now there will be total devastation," he said. "They started to play catch-up rugby when they didn't need to - 20 minutes out they were still very much in the game."