Oliver 'In no man's land'
October 7, 2007
Anton Oliver has given a graphic account of the desolation felt in the All Black dressing room as the shock of their World Cup quarter-final defeat against France hit home.
Seeking to accurately articulate his and his team-mates' collective reaction to being knocked out in Cardiff, the New Zealand hooker was moved to evoke comparisons with scenes from the trenches of the First World War.
The tournament favourites return home today following last night's 20-18 defeat at the Millennium Stadium.
New Zealand has been plunged into disconsolate disbelief that their adored All Blacks `choked' on rugby's biggest stage yet again.
But Oliver insists the nation's disquiet is nothing compared to the devastation that has overcome the players themselves.
The Toulon front row said: ``I have just finished reading `Massacre at Passchendale' and also `All Quiet on the Western Front'.
``The feeling in the sheds was like no man's land, like it's described in those books.
``That is what it feels like - no man's land - and it's not a nice place to be.
``There will be lots of people at home who are sharing that as well. So come into no man's land - and we can have a cup of tea together.''
The defeat was a miserable way for Oliver to end an All Black career that has spanned a decade, but the 32-year-old was not the only player to be overcome with emotion.
He said: ``After the game I didn't want to take my jersey off; I didn't want to leave it.
``It's very, very difficult for me. No one wants to finish their career like this. We've bled so much for the country, and the team had such high hopes.
``I'm just trying to get through the next wee while. There are different, varying bits of emotion in the team.
``People are taking it differently. Some people have already let it out - others are taking their time. It is going to be a long, exhausting process.
``There has been a lot of people crying, which is not something that you see very often - so it is quite powerful when you see it.''
"Cheika's been phenomenal. He gives you an incredible level of mental strength." Tom Hamilton talks to Waratahs star Jacques Potgieter
While the Super Rugby season enters the all-important knockout phase, elsewhere pre-season training never looked so enjoyable. We round-up the best snaps in our Week in Pictures
"Our scrums and lineouts are sometimes not that good but our men are very brave." Ken Borland finds that rugby is on the rise in Senegal
Laurie Fisher talks about the Brumbies and Gloucester, and provides revealing thoughts on the player involvement during the glory days in Canberra