Richie McCaw embodies everything that I really love about New Zealand rugby.
My obsession with rugby began over a decade ago and my love for the men in black coincided with me finding the sport that would become the sport of my life.
For over 100 years, New Zealand has consistently produced the best players the world has ever seen. I missed the legendary careers of the likes of Pinetree Meads, Buck Shelford, Graham Mourie, John Timu and Murray Mexted. However, I was blessed to see the likes of Michael Jones, Grant Fox, John Kirwan, Zinzan Brooke and Sean Fitzpatrick close out their careers.
My favourite All Black stars include Jeff Wilson, Christian Cullen, Andrew Mehrtens and Justin Marshall. Once these four heroes of mine hung up their jerseys, I felt a void in my heart and wondered who my next favourite All Blacks would be and if I’d feel the same way about them as I did my idols?
The next generation of All Blacks have picked up where the last tide have left off; the new era has ushered in a new wave of superstars, including Daniel Carter – who surely must be the best no.10 the world has ever seen. With this new breed came Richie McCaw.
Much has been written about him as a player and, rightly so, he has been given legendary status while still playing. It is amazing that this champion player is still only 26, but he seems to be peerless at the top of rugby’s great players list.
Apart from having the tag as the world’s best player, Richie has been vaunted for being intelligent, hard working, focussed and determined – qualities that has helped his meteoric rise to fame. It therefore should not be surprising that he has achieved all that he has in his career, but it is! How many others can lay claim to what he can? How many others don’t use him as the benchmark or the standard of how the game should be played? Richie only seems to get better with each season that he plays and every game he steps into, he gives his all, having no regard for his own body. Its one of the reasons that I love All Blacks rugby so much – Richie is a supreme example of what the black jersey means to this exclusive club and his country. The passion, with which he plays this game, is something that I greatly admire about him.
Another reason I hold Richie in such high regard is the person that he is. Again, this is a major reason why I support the All Blacks and not another team. Despite their geniusness, despite their flair, despite the fact that they are miles apart from their counterparts, All Blacks tend to have that extra quality that makes them really special – their humility. They are down to earth and unassuming, always approachable and accessible even to fans like me that are not New Zealanders by birth.
I highly respect Richie in this regard. As he has assumed the reigns of the All Blacks captaincy, he has gone out of his way to become a people’s captain, like the amazing Tana Umaga before him. However, what sets Richie apart from other New Zealand captains is his knack to connect to people from every background and make them feel as though they are special when speaking to him. Gracious in defeat and even more humble when he is winning – and how many times has he lost a game, only once as All Blacks captain even! – Richie is a rare breed – polite, kind and eminently decent. These qualities have confirmed his status as one of the best All Blacks to ever captain this mighty rugby nation, but as a player, Richie will be up there along Pinetree as one of the finest to grace a rugby field and I am honoured to have been able to watch his unprecedented career.
From Yeely, Camelia, whatever her name :
Richie's one and only fan from Morrocco.
So it's us...
She apologizes to Izzy and Kaylin : she didn't know what you girls looked like so you aren't on the drawing ; we do hope you'll join us for the second birthday of baby Richie!