Beaten and broken, Joe Schmidt and Ireland were left devastated by the All Blacks.

Schmidt has achieved such history with Ireland over the past six-and-a-half years that the Kiwi tactician deserved a fitting Rugby World Cup farewell.

Elite sport doesn't allow everyone to succeed, though.

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Schmidt delivered Ireland three Six Nations titles, one grand slam, two victories over the All Blacks to break their 111-year wait, and he finishes with a 74 per cent win record.

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Yet on the grand stage, he has failed to win two quarter-finals, having watched his side crash out to Argentina at the last World Cup and now suffer the same fate.

Rory Best of Ireland gets a hug from team mate Rob Kearney after he is substituted. Photo / Getty
Rory Best of Ireland gets a hug from team mate Rob Kearney after he is substituted. Photo / Getty

Four years on from Ireland's loss to the Pumas in Cardiff, this 46-14 defeat at Tokyo Stadium ended Schmidt's tenure on the most brutal of notes.

"This is what we really wanted that's why it's so devastating tonight – that what we really wanted we didn't produce the performance we needed on the night," Schmidt said.

"Maybe it consumed us a little bit too much and we got distracted from our normal game-to-game focus.

"We would have loved to have gotten into the final four because there's a number of things this group of players have achieved. That's the one thing that continues to remain elusive so we're incredibly disappointed. Heartbreaking wouldn't be too far away from how I feel and how the players feel right now.

"You tend to carry your scars a lot more than your successes so those scars are deep. That's why I am a little bit broken by it. When I get some distance to reflect there's been some incredibly good days and I don't think they get washed away by two defeats."

Irish captain Rory Best sits in the same position as Schmidt, signing off after one of the worst Irish performances of this tenure.

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The visibly emotional Best, given a guard of honour at the end of the match from the All Blacks, shared the depths of the disappointment by revealing members of the team shed tears after the final whistle.

"Right now I'm tired, sore, upset. We're incredibly disappointed. Our team has a lot of big characters and it's not often you get a changing room that's deadly silent. That was what happened. There were big men in tears," Best said. "That's what happens whenever you put your heart and soul into everything.

"It's incredibly tough. It was important for us to win a quarter-final because then it almost becomes a habit.

"Joe was able to break a little bit of the fear factor the All Blacks held over the last three tests. When you do that, they see you coming a lot more and they're a lot more prepared and you get the best team in the world fully focused on you."

Ireland's Rory Best after being subbed off. Photo / Photosport
Ireland's Rory Best after being subbed off. Photo / Photosport

Schmidt struggled to explain Ireland missing 29 tackles and conceding 17 turnovers but did admit their feats of last year, when he was named coach of the year and his team rose to be recognised as the world's best, played a major part in their sharp regression.

"I don't really have an excuse or reason for it," Schmidt said. "They're good enough to win games without us inviting them in. We're incredibly disappointed.

"I felt we needed to get off to a good start to build confidence and when that didn't happen I felt we would be vulnerable.

"There's always a myriad of factors. When you hit a height there is always a little bit of a drop. It's not perfect. We work with human beings.

"They were stifling. They made it very hard for us to breathe. When we did have opportunities to breath we gave oxygen back by missing touch.

"They are a super team. We had to be absolutely nailed on. We weren't and that's how you get a 30 point differential because they can accumulate points so quickly.

"It was a really impressive All Blacks performance."


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