It's culturally important for sports fans to react more maturely to America's Cup disappointment than they did when the All Blacks were stunningly bundled out of the 1999 rugby World Cup, John Hart says.
Oracle snatched victory from the jaws of defeat off San Francisco today, coming back from 1-8 down, in much the same way France mounted a rugby revolution when they rolled Hart's All Blacks at Twickenham in 1999.
Both times New Zealanders sat stunned as their worst fears were realised.
"The reaction of our country to [San Francisco] is important - it is a statement about our culture," the former All Blacks coach said.
"The message for New Zealanders is we don't have a right to win it.
"We have to win it, and the fact that we were beaten by what is in the end a better boat and a better team . . . we should be not ashamed of it."
As the All Blacks' coach, Hart faced a torrid reception when he returned home after the shock 31-43 loss. France had been hammered 54-7 in Wellington four months earlier, and in the World Cup semifinal they were down 14 points at halftime.
To say it was poorly received at home is understatement. Hart was spat on and his racehorse was booed at the New Zealand Cup meeting in Christchurch.
"It was a difficult couple of months, particularly being spat on, which is the lowest thing that's ever happened to me," he said.
"Hopefully we've learned from lessons of the past that we can have our disappointment, we can have our sadness, but we need to have respect for the opposition, and we need to have huge respect for the players on our team, who gave everything they could.
"We should pay tribute to Oracle for what they've done, and we should pay tribute to Team New Zealand for getting themselves in such an outstanding position to win the America's Cup.
"The reaction that these guys have failed is not fair.
"What we have to think about is how do we want our young people to see us?
"It's a really important time to take stock and congratulate Dean Barker and Grant Dalton for what they've done. I've always had the belief if a team gives it everything they have and they get beaten by a better team, then that's life, that's a contest."
It was impossible for the public to understand the pain Dalton and Barker would be feeling, Hart said.
"People will never - unless they're in that situation - ever understand it," he said.
"In 1999 . . . the team dressing room was the worst, most devastating sight I've ever seen in the sense of how the players felt and [their] reaction.
"These guys [Team New Zealand sailors] will feel the same when they get away from the public glare. They will shed a tear. They will be hugely disappointed because it's been their goal and their aim. The public - with respect to the public - don't ever get in that situation.
"They were difficult times [in 1999], but I came out stronger for it. I'm sure it's going to be exactly the same for Dean Barker.
"We [the 1999 All Blacks] got tremendous support from 95 percent of New Zealanders, and I got tremendous support from 95 percent of the media."
Hart felt the attitude of sports fans was on the improve, and the feeling for a week that Oracle was surging back had helped ease the blow of defeat.
In 2007, when the All Blacks lost in the World Cup quarterfinals to France, there had not been the outcry of 1999.
"Our reaction to 2007 was much more mature - on reflection we are a lot better, but we have to be better than that .
"We can't be bad losers, we don't have a right to win it, we have an opportunity, and if we're beaten we have to accept that.
"Give credit to the opposition - I'm a bit disappointed to hear now on the TV it's all about money, were we saying that when it was 8-1?"
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