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Last Updated: Sunday, 16 November, 2003, 15:59 GMT
Hart calls for calm
New Zealand's Doug Howlett
A downcast Doug Howlett ponders New Zealand's Cup exit
Former All Blacks coach John Hart has urged New Zealand fans not to press the panic button after the country's semi-final exit from the Rugby World Cup.

Hart said the public outcry against current coach John Mitchell was all too reminiscent of 1999 when his New Zealand team were upset by France at the last-four stage.

"I'm not enjoying this moment at all because it brings me back to '99 when we were expected to win and we didn't," said Hart.

"It is a major disappointment - and I just hope that at home we respond with a little bit more maturity than we did in 1999.

What does it mean whether you are third or fourth
Ex-All Blacks coach
John Hart

"I think it was a period in our history that wasn't really very good for the game or good for our country."

New Zealand face France in Thursday's third-fourth place play-off game.

But Hart said a match between two defeated semi-finalists was a meaningless contest and called on the International Rugby Board to abandon the fixture.

"It is a really difficult ask for either team to come out and play," he said.

"What does it mean whether you are third or fourth? You are absolutely shattered and your dream's finished."

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