There's an old saying: Don't be sad it's over; be glad it happened.
That's where we are – or should be – with the All Blacks' significant loss to England in the World Cup semifinal.
Few countries – and maybe none – will win back-to-back World Cups; it is a monstrously difficult thing to do as is the three-peat which can now earn the adjective "fabled", ranking with the Holy Grail, El Dorado and King Solomon's mines.
• 2019 Rugby World Cup: All Blacks fall to third in world ranking after semifinal loss to England
• 2019 Rugby World Cup: All Blacks react to England semifinal defeat and Wales bronze medal match
• 2019 Rugby World Cup: England could face fine for V-formation haka response
• 2019 Rugby World Cup: Journalist explains question that Steve Hansen called 'disrespectful'
Few (and maybe none) will ever go 18 World Cup matches without a defeat; few teams will ever be held in such awe as the All Blacks have been in this magical near-decade from 2011 to 2019.
Yet – and this is the quintessential nature of top sport – the 19-7 defeat by a clinical England poses many questions for All Black teams of the future.
England out-thought and outplayed the All Blacks to such an extent that all they failed in was scoring the extra points to underline the fact they beat the All Blacks playing like All Blacks. In the first half, they attacked with vigour, purpose and skill and, in the second half, closed the match out with 'they shall not pass' defence. It could have been worse – even a lot worse; the scoreboard flattered the All Blacks a little.
It was a clash of philosophies: the All Blacks' blindingly fast attack versus England's asphyxiating defence. It's sad Steve Hansen and co made mistakes. The Scott Barrett selection at blindside flanker was always a risk and represented the first time the selectors changed their side to counter the strengths of the opposition instead of pressing home their own advantages.
They also made a mistake trumpeting how that change was designed to disrupt the questionable England lineout. That pigeon came home to roost and immediately crapped in the nest; the All Blacks' lineout misfired. Hansen & co were lauded as masters of mind games before this test; that one missed the target.
The loose forwards (and pack as a whole) did not adequately control the breakdown – that honour belonged to England flankers Tom Curry and Sam Underhill. The breakdown is the engine room of possession. England's engine ticked over smoothly all day.
That said, let's not forget Scott Barrett ran down Jonny May as the England speedster seemed set to run away and score. Even if May later seemed a bit restricted, maybe carrying an injury, it was a vital piece of defence from Barrett who will, most assuredly, be a vital player for the 2020 All Blacks and thereafter.
It suddenly seemed a mistake to have Jordie Barrett come on as a wing though this column has consistently endorsed that player. His error didn't help. Nor did silly penalties by senior players like Sam Whitelock though, as Hansen pointed out at the end, those are the mistakes made when desperately chasing a game.
Finally, it's sad Hansen made another mistake, calling out TV3 nice guy Andrew Gourdie for a "disrespectful" question at the press conference afterwards. It is not disrespectful to ask whether the All Blacks turned up with the right mindset.
Hansen took that to mean the questioner thought the All Blacks hadn't been trying. There's a vast difference between that and the intent behind the query: Did they turn up with the required mental strength to carry out the highly demanding high-octane attack game against one of the toughest defences in the business?
A disrespectful question would be: 'Does your husband play?' or 'Do you think training in ballet shoes would help?' Generally speaking, there are not otherwise many disrespectful questions at a press conference when the world's long-time best team loses when most of the planet expects it not to.
All that said, Hansen can sail off in the sunset still affirmed as the most successful coach the All Blacks have ever had. He has been a joy with his laconic, droll, essentially Kiwi humour and practicality – and his success. We can only wish him well; he will be much missed. Sad he's going but we're glad he happened.
He leaves intriguing unanswered questions like: will Ian Foster be the next head coach or has the door opened wide enough to let other contenders through now? Will the 2020 All Blacks keep that attacking philosophy or will the next coach adopt more of a grindy-grindy approach? What will happen to dual playmakers Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo'unga (his defence exposed by England) and where will Damian McKenzie fit in?
Whatever happens, the All Blacks are looking at a rebuilding phase now and it will be fascinating to watch. I, for one, hope they keep the attacking philosophy. It was, by all accounts, how the players wanted to play the game and it is good to watch.
If someone beats them by playing that style better and/or by defending like men possessed, then so be it. That's sport – that's why we watch it.
And if it is sad this time round, the one thing you can bet on is that All Black rugby will make us glad again. Soon.