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Sam Cane addresses reasons behind teenager kicking saga

BY Jack Tunney  ·  Monday Jul 10, 2023

It’s been a weekend of mixed emotions for All Blacks captain Sam Cane after his side trounced Argentina 12-41 in the opening match of this year’s Rugby Championship. An incident involving a young pitch invader and Cane has caused some serious talking points around the world, so much so that the national captain felt the need to address the issue with the media. He has also reached out to the young man as he “felt bad because of his age”.

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It was an important victory for a side that has come under the intense inspection of many a Kiwi fan over the past year or two. Despite some suspect performances in the past, they appeared to come out with all guns blazing as they dismantled an out-of-depth Argentina team away from home.

While the scrutiny was on the All Blacks as a team, Sam Cane has faced some criticism along the way, with some spectators believing the national captain to be only keeping his place in the starting lineup due to his official title. The last thing that Cane would want is more concerns regarding his place on the team – concerns that have risen even further since the match.

Being filmed ‘booting’ a pitch invader during the match, there were mixed responses from fans around the world. There was a general consensus that it was not the actions that would be expected of an international captain, but also others suggesting that a tackle would have been more appropriate than a kick.

The uproar over the trip continued to increase when it was reported that the pitch invader was, in fact, just a teenager.

There has been a saving grace for the All Blacks captain, however, as Cane managed to track down the youngster called ‘Ronan’ and make peace.

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“Had a good catch-up with him and his friends and I’m glad that we could leave things in a good place,” said Cane following his reunion with the young fan.

“I saw a pitch invader running towards the team with a security guard some distance behind. In that split–second I made the decision to assist the security guard in stopping him, so he could take him off the field,

“What people wouldn’t realise is there is a big moat round the field and in the time between the final whistle and our team huddle there had already been about five pitch invaders and security were doing the best they could. It was a bit chaotic out there.

“I’d say if he was an adult, I wouldn’t have felt I needed to [apologise], but the fact he was a teenager … straight away I felt bad because of his age, then when we got back into the sheds I was reflecting on it and once we got back to the hotel I looked into the possibility of reaching out to him.

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“Through the power of social media and some locals we tracked him down, had a video call, and I explained, ‘I thought you were an adult’, and I said sorry for what happened. He was good. We chatted a little bit (through translation) about his rugby. His name is Roman, he’s a halfback, and I said he might be a decent running halfback because of the way he managed to evade security.

“There were five or six of his mates in the background all joining in and filming. Despite what happened it all ended on a really positive note,

“The fact there were so many pitch invaders within a short space of time, plus they’ve had to go through the effort of climbing over a barrier on to the field …maybe that’s something to look into.

“I can only talk about the weekend. In the end all the pitch invaders were harmless, but I suppose you can never be sure, especially being in a foreign country and a new city.”

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