McCaw: I should have known better
McCaw: I should have known betterSHARE
All Black captain Richie McCaw admitted he pushed the envelope once too often and it cost his team.
McCaw, bitterly disappointed in his team's last-minute 32-33 loss to the Waratahs in the Super Rugby Final in Sydney at the weekend, said he "should have known better" after conceding the penalty that gifted Waratahs flyhalf Bernard Foley the match-winning kick at goal.
The veteran is well-known for his ability to often escape unscathed while pushing the limits of the law – in a career that has seen him win the World Cup, four Super Rugby titles and a record three world player of the year awards.
However, South African referee Craig Joubert had no hesitation to penalise McCaw for illegally entering a ruck from the side with the Crusaders clinging to a two-point (32-30) lead.
Foley nailed the 44-metre attempt to clinch the first Super Rugby crown for the Waratahs.
"It's pretty disappointing really, but at least you rolled the dice and that's what can happen," a dejected McCaw told a post-match media briefing.
"I'm pretty gutted mate."
McCaw suggested Joubert's decision could have gone either, calling it a "50-50" call.
"I probably should have known better really," he said of his decision to play the ball.
"I guess that's what pressure and those sort of moments come down to, being able to back your D and perhaps I opened the door for the ref to make a decision and whether you agree or disagree that's the way it was and unfortunately he kicked the goal.
"I'm pretty annoyed, but I can't do much about it now. It's one of those things you've just got to live with."
Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder also suggested Joubert's decisive ruling was a 50-50 call.
"It could have gone either way. It comes down to those moments doesn't it? There's nothing between the sides. It comes down to those moments, winning the competition or not," he said before being magnanimous in defeat.
"They've been the best team all season. They showed that at the end didn't they?"
While the Crusaders still boast seven titles – four more than the next best team – the Christchurch outfit have now lost nine of their past play-off games on the road.
Since winning the 2008 title under Robbie Deans, the Todd Blackadder-coached side have fallen in the 2011 decider to the Reds, to the Waratahs in heartbreaking fashion and in four semifinals.
"Coming second is not much fun, I can tell you that," Blackadder said.
Crusaders captain Kieran Read said he was devastated the Crusaders couldn't hang on after clawing their way back after their slow start.
"We're absolutely gutted," Read said.
"We only came here for one result."
Crusaders' cause wasn't helped by talismanic playmaker Dan Carter succumbing to an ankle injury after half-an-hour, even though replacement goal-kicker Colin Slade piled on 20 points in a near match-winning contribution.
"It wasn't great losing Dan [Carter] so early, but that's just life," Blackadder said.
"I thought the guys that went out there did a pretty good job and Sladey stepped up and kicked the goals that he needed to and [Carter's centre replacement] Tom Taylor ran bloody well.
"But you don't like to lose those influential players."