As the All Blacks made an astonishing comeback against Ireland, snatching the victory in the last moments and claiming their 14th win of the 2014 season, we think it’s time we got a close look at their captain – Richie McCaw.
Born in December 1980, Richie McCaw, also known as ‘Richie’, mainly plays in the openside flanker position for the New Zealand Crusaders and Canterbury teams. Many consider him the greatest openside flanker of all times – he is big enough to take the hits around the breakdown, as well as quick, lithe and skilful enough to play a traditional tearaway’s linking role to superb effect.
McCaw debuted with the All Blacks against Ireland in Dublin on November 17, 2001. He captained for his country for the first time in 2004 in a game against Wales and was appointed as a full-time captain in 2006. Since then and to the end of the 2011 season he has led the All Blacks to 51 victories in 58 tests. Richie is the most capped All Black ever and has been named IRB player of the year a record three times – in 2006, 2009 and 2010.
For most of the 2011 season McCaw was troubled by a stress fracture in his right food. He had to undergo surgery and was forced to be more careful than usual throughout the entire season. His foot injury prevented him from playing two yearly games at the World Cup that year but he inspired the All Blacks to an 8-7 victory over France in the tournament finale.
The 32-year-old took a sabbatical in the first half of 2013 and returned as captain for the All Blacks to help them win the Rugby Championship. Following the win against Ireland, New Zealand now has a record of 14 consecutive wins in 2014 – a perfect season. McCaw said that the extent of belief within the All Blacks has helped them pull off the remarkable comeback. Ryan Crotty’s overtime try and Aaron Cruden’s conversion led to a 24-22 win, securing the All Black’s place in history as the first professional-era team to record a 100 percent campaign.
As of 2013, Richie has now won 110 tests, with one draw, for an 89.11 percent winning record. As a captain, he has won 77 tests out of 87. It’s a staggering achievement of success.
Richie turned down a knighthood from the New Zealand government in 2011. The information came out straight from Prime Minister John Key, who said that he himself had spoken with the All Blacks captain. Richie had said that he believed it was not the right time and one day, when he’s no longer on the pitch, he’d consider it once again. Most New Zealanders still respect him for this decision.