Monday, December 04, 2006

Midi Olympique Magazine (novembre 2006)

Richie McCaw, A prince of this game
By Serge Manificat

The prodigy New Zealander flanker may be, 20 years after David Kirk, the second All Blacks captain to hold the rugby world cup in a year at the Stade de France.

In the McCaw family, the most famous had been for a long time the grandfather, Jim, from Scotland, wounded during World War 2 after having enrolled to Europe and joined the Allies. For a short while, Richard Hugh, aka Richie, has passed him as far as bravery is concerned. Richie McCaw often enjoys saying that what excites him first when playing rugby is the fight. He stopped counting his scars, his wounds, but also the concussions he suffers from –like during the 2004 summer when he had to stop playing.

Cutting down –at the McCaws, we know it, from father to son. Like Tony Woodcock and Greg Somerville, Richie McCaw is a son of peasants. His parents Don and Margaret were cereal growers. He spent his childhood in Kurow Area, a tiny town in the South of the province of Canterbury, where he would take care of the cattle and raise the haystacks.
“Behind the farm, there was a kind of rugby field. That’s where I started to play at the age of 7 ; there was also the tiny field of hamlet’s school where we were only 24 pupils.”
Richie McCaw immediately knew this sport would be his.
"At 10 or 11, I would run a lot already. I knew I had to train more in order to tackle more often, so as to always be the first to steal the ball. I has always been pretty exciting to get the ball and see the others scoring a try in the opposite line. As I grew up, I have always wanted to be the most 'prepared' player, the most fitted. Besides, I practise as often with the back lines as with the front lines".
Richie McCaw was not born to be an average player.

This sentence is so true that Richie McCaw had just turned 17 when he was called to the Northern island to play the school finals. In Auckland, the most gifted flanker of his generation -who had been spotted for a long time by the recruiting sergeants- was seen as a prodigy and approved unanimously. So much so that his coaches, during a selection match whose aim was to constitute the Southern island team, didn’t hesitate and selected him as…a center player. But it was pointless. Three years before, his parents had moved not far from Dunedin, 150 kms farther in the South, and Richie had left the family nest to Otago boarding school. During the 1998 school final against Rotorua Boys High School, Richie McCaw scored the try which gave no winner to the match and got his scholarship to attend Lincoln University in Christchurch where he would play rugby and study agronomy. He soon started to play for the NPC team of Otago.

We know the sequel. The number 7 of the Crusaders, whose idols were Michael Jones and Josh Kronfeld, is today the best player in the world at his position. Like Dan Carter, every match he plays is marked by his prints, like this summer during the Tri Series or last year during the two first tests against the Lions. Richie is everywhere.
“His game is perfect or almost perfect. The only thing he has to learn is how to save his strength because he is often the first on the ‘contact points’, he gets all the blows”, Steve Hansen, All Blacks coach, said last summer.

Yet since his first cap in 2001, the crazy dog, the *celibattant*, the gliding fan who has his flying licence, has learnt to control himself. Not only thanks to some golf practices. Since recently, ha has had to control another kind of pressure, the one of the media, because of his fame. Since May 13th : it was the day after the Super 14 semi final won by the Crusaders against the Brumbies ; Graham Henry appointed him as the new All Black captain, as Tana Umaga’s successor.
“Two years ago when I was first appointed captain against Wales, it was a shock. For such a small country like ours, being the All Blacks captain is as important as being Prime Minister!”
Perfectionist through and through, able to build a ‘tackle zone’ again and again, to do the same moves. Richie is a prince of this game.
“Rugby is a way of being. Knowing that once you have tackled, the job is not finished, you have to go till the end of the action and the given situation. That’s where you make the difference. The ideal situation being without any fault. Because at the professional level, there is no second chance.”

*Celibattant* : mixed of the two French words “celibataire” = single and “battant” = fighter ; I didn’t find an equivalent…let’s say it’s the opposite of Bridget Jones. The “celibattant” are single and not desperate, not really searching a partner…c’est la vie!
Cattle : can be translated by livestock
Cutting down : can be translated by slaughter
--> I am not very familiar with this vocabulary...Yet, enjoy the article ;)


Anonymous said...

Mais où est la version Française de cet article?
S'il te plait, pouurais-tu la mettre?
Je n'ai pas acheté Midi Olpympique...

Anonymous said...

j'essaierai de faire ça pdt les vac de noel. dsl, j'avais complètement zappé le ferai

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