Having been shown yellow when the incident was placed on review, the sanction was upgraded in the TMO bunker to red, ending the flanker’s final just 33 minutes in.
New Zealand rallied in the second half but could not consistently break down a staunch South African defence, falling one point short in a 12-11 defeat.
And the beaten skipper admitted that the “heartbreak” would be tough to get over.
“There’s so much hurt right now,” Cane said. “It’s actually hard to find the words to explain it. It’s hard because you are feeling so much hurt but at the same time you are so proud of the group in how they fought back.
“We really gave ourselves a good shot of winning that game. I think it speaks volumes of the group as a whole. They are a fantastic group of men who care so much about playing for the All Blacks and making New Zealand proud. There’s a lot of heartbreak in the sheds right now. It’s hard.”
Of the incident itself, Cane added: “It sort of caught me off guard, the fact [Kriel] stepped back. But, look, we’ve been at this tournament for two months now, and anything [contact] around the head has ramifications.
“I’m not here to discuss whether it was right or wrong. It can’t be changed. It’s something unfortunately I am going to have to live with forever.”
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Cane’s card was one of four in the final, with teammate Shannon Frizell, and South Africa’s Siya Kolisi and Cheslin Kolbe, shown yellow.
South Africa captain Kolisi’s head-to-head collision with Ardie Savea also went to review, though the colour of his card remained yellow with the officials deeming that most of the force was through the All Black’s chest.
Defeat in Paris marked the end of coach Ian Foster’s time in charge of the All Blacks, with the head coach soon to be replaced by Scott Robertson, who has won seven successive Super Rugby titles with the Crusaders.
While reflecting on the pride he felt in having guided his team to the brink of World Cup victory, the outgoing head coach felt that the two high tackle incidents proved crucial.
“I really don’t want the game to be about us talking about red cards,” Foster explained. “It is what it is. There will be plenty of time to analyse that.
“There was an intent to wrap [from Cane], there didn’t seem to be a whole lot of force in the contact. The hit on Ardie [from Kolisi] had a lot of force going into that contact and had a direct contact on the head.
“The game has got a few issues it has got to sort out. That’s not sour grapes. You’ve got two different situations with different variables and one is a red card, one is a yellow card. That is the game.”
Foster also questioned the interventions of television match official Tom Foley, with the Englishman busy throughout the contest in assisting referee Wayne Barnes.
Foley had also played a prominent role in New Zealand’s first series defeat to Ireland on home soil last July.
“We got the same behaviour from that TMO that we got during the Irish series last year. The same TMO. We expected what we got.”