All Blacks captain Richie McCaw has spoken of the "unique'' situation of having to hand back the Rugby World Cup at an International Rugby Board function this morning.
McCaw returned the Webb Ellis Cup to Rugby World Cup Limited chairman Bernard Lapasset in an official handover ceremony in Dublin.
With less than two years to go until the next World Cup takes place in England, the Webb Ellis Cup will now be used to promote the eighth edition of the tournament which takes place from 18 September to 31 October 2015.
McCaw held aloft the Cup just over two years ago at Eden Park after the All Blacks beat France 8-7 to end a 24-year wait for a second World Cup success and in the two years since the trophy has toured New Zealand and allowed thousands of fans to get up close to it.
"It's certainly a little bit different handing it back, I guess that means we've won it,'' McCaw said. "Every time I see it I remember the great times of two years ago.''
The All Blacks' next test is against Ireland on Monday morning, with McCaw confirming the intense nature of the 30-22 victory over England at Twickenham.
"To be honest getting out of bed today and yesterday was pretty tough. It was a really physical battle. You expect that in test matches. We were relieved to come out on top.
We're excited about one more, it's going to be another good one and we're excited about finishing the year off on a good note.
"We need to prepare well this week. The Irish boys will be hurting after being knocked over by the Aussies on Saturday too.''
Asked about the form of No8 Kieran Read, who is a favourite to win the IRB player of the year next week, McCaw said: "He's one of the best I've played with, no doubt. Not only is he a special player, but he's captained the All Blacks a few times this year. For me it's definitely good to know you've got a man like that beside you playing the way he is.''