Friday, November 02, 2007

Rugby Hebdo. Monday 29.10.2007 : Mccaw, a suspended Fate

Since the defeat in Cardiff, Richie McCaw has kept silent. To bounce better Rugby Hebdo met his Folks.

That night at the Restaurant le Troquet in Paris, there was something weird in seeing the McCaws, without Richard. It was 4 days before the Rugby World Cup Final – the unexpected South Africans v England. After visiting Musee d’ Orsay and wandering in the French borough streets, Don & Margaret, the parents, Jo, the sister and Sam her boyfriend were about to taste some Basque specialties without their Richard (they have never called him “Richie”). Yet if there were one McCaw that was suppose to be in Paris by this time it was the All Blacks Captain. But no! He had been back home for a week now without stopping by Paris, not even ready to go back to the old continent for the IRB Awards Ceremony. Because “his passport went thru the washing machine”, confessed his father, Don. As a missed moment to take off all possibilities to put a stop where that might be to painful.

Paris - so many people believed in that victory, 20 years after his countrymen, he might have seen it to: Raising up the Webb Ellis Trophy at Stade de France - just a flash, and then Bang! The disillusion in Cardiff. His little Sister Jo “Richard is a real Kiwi, he loves the New Zealand lifestyle so much “, he has preferred going back to this earth that he had spread on every ground during the Rugby World Cup. His Father “He already wants to be in 2011. He wants to stay in New Zealand to prepare for the next Rugby World Cup.”

Richie McCaw was born like that, fighting not always winning but willing, to a point his parents wouldn’t have guessed. Till that day, the 1st time he got back home from boarding school in Dunedin and told them “I’ll quit rugby” he was 13.
“The older boys at school told him he was too small he would never play with them” his dad remembers.
“He came from the our Valley (Haka. Valley), from a small school were all the children were mixed despite their ages” his mum continues “it was a cultural shock for him to be in this big school. He wanted to be good enough to survive”.

He revealed himself far from home. The little expansive country boy who, when he got back from school went to watch his dad work on the farm, to build a tractor, to kick a ball alone in the garden/backyard or to run after sheep, had now become an elevated pupil by his peers, first for the boarding school then by the whole school. “We were quite surprised” reckons his mother. But Richard had learnt one thing from the speech from his parents.
“They have always told me to seize the opportunities when they were there or when they were given to me”, he still explains nowadays “for the OBHS, they told me: You are given this chance, don’t regret it!” So he put his emotions aside and so did his parents. Don yet says: “when he left I missed it - not seeing him around”.
And the kid invested – Brian Ashwin was one of his teachers and his coach at the time. He described Richie as an “impressively determined, impressively fit (for his age) boy with a sort of personal satisfaction plan”. At nights, on the hills of Dunedin, where there was no rugby training, he had his own sessions on the grounds between the forest and the buildings made with old stone. And this work paid back in ’98 for his last year at OBHS, he was voted sports person of the year and second best pupil of the school. With the First XV, as Vice Captain, they reached the Final of the High Schools Tournament. For the first time in the history of the Secondary Schools Championship (the highest ranked tournament for this age category) two teams shared the title: OBHS and Rotoura Boys College. Ashwin remembers a “boy who bleeds a lot and who, by his manner of playing was always on first line”.

Richie McCaw is generous – First he took his advice from Uncle John McLay, who in 1983 played for Mid-Canterbury against the British & Irish Lions. Richie tells “He played at No. 8 and explained to me if I wanted to touch the ball I should be as close as possible all the time. He also said that if I wanted to score, I should run with my knees up!” Richie also inherited the crazy head side from his Grand-father, Jim, Air Pilot during WW2 with whom he shares the birth date and the same passion for flying.
John another uncle says “My father used to fly very low in the valley, I don’t know how he survived!” In his rugby, Richie also works to the edge and doesn’t let people indifferent.
At that time, Robbie Deans was already a part of the Crusaders Staff; he confirms: “we heard this about him. We knew he was talented so we were very happy when he decided to study in Christchurch”.

Christchurch, on the East Coast of the South Island, centre of his life since 1999. The City where his sister also lives (she is a netball player), but also his parents after they sold the farm in 2002. The Black and Red, home of the Crusaders and Canterbury – his home – where the New Zealand squad landed on October 10th after the journey from Cardiff via Tokyo. The welcome was unbelievable, beyond expectations to be honest. For the first time the public pressure that usually lies upon the All Blacks had an opposite effect, thousands of fans forgot their own sorrow to support their fallen heroes. This cure made effect after a couple of hours – that was the first step. Then the questions that the Captain said were inevitable, must have come again, about the defeat of course, but also the past, so as to (maybe) give a sense to what happened, this rugby life and this great defeat.

When Robbie Deans talks about this young player he gave a chance to in 2001 and appointed Captain in 2004, he always talks about obviousness: “it was obvious he would become an All Black, we didn’t want to launch him too early so as to protect his physical development. We wanted him to be ready for the right time”. Then “it was obvious he would become the All Black Captain. We wanted him to have some experience as a captain before he got the “big job”.”
But to what point did the obviousness that he’d raise some day, the Rugby World Cup, fill New Zealand’s subconscious? And the Captains subconscious? His parents “he doesn’t have a normal life of a 26yr old man, and it worries us a little. It’s always weird for us to always here people talking about him as we are here, incognito, it's sometimes as if our son wasn’t ours. But we keep hope – so far he has been doing it well”. Like other great All Blacks before him, he takes his values of humility of the earth in his family farm-background.

He always keeps his smile, even when a Grandmother in a restaurant asked him to speak to her Grandson on a cell phone, those who know him know his upper lip & his fixed eye betray his embarrassment, but that’s his duty as captain. His passion and his devotion, this cowboy style of walking, and his cowboy face too, have made him the national embodiment of the hopes of the nation. He doesn’t forget where he came from for that’s his love for rugby that keeps him standing, and that will make him start again in 2008 and he hopes, until 2011.

By then he’d have played Rugby at this level for 10yrs! 10 yrs in Black. What a journey! Among which the memory of his 1st cap with the black jersey may always remain his source of inspiration. Just 2mths after his NPC debut with Canterbury, and as he had never played for the Crusaders (he was not 21) the young flanker with the head gear, lit this Ireland v New Zealand at Lansdowne Road Stadium and was voted Man of the Match.
As he was about to get his trophy, the whole crowd at the after match dinner, including the Irish, made a standing ovation for him. It was obvious that it was only the first time one would here about him. Reuben Thorne had discovered him a couple of months before, during a pre-season match
“I knew nothing about him, we were defending at the back of the lineout, the game started and I saw him passing me and chasing the guy who had the ball. I told myself “who the hell is this kid?” I realized he had something special”.

Since then Richie McCaw has developed his own game, improved it. Robbie Deans reckons Richie McCaw has the willing to improve that only aside players have “Like DC, they know other teams target them, and that they can’t play their games as they want, enough is never enough”. If he needs it, the 2011 Rugby World Cup that will take place at home may be an extra source of motivation. Because his will of revenge is there. No one knows if he will still be Captain or even play in 2011, but this year he was, and even if he didn’t say it, this defeat was his. The experience must have been mentally exhausting. So since his return to New Zealand, his kept silence, he flew, using this flying passion that runs thru the McCaw’s veins to get other horizons (in all the meanings of ‘horizons’). Then will be December and training sessions for the Super 14, back to rugby without its nation’s ambitions, for some months at least.

Article by Ludovic Nanet -Pictures not related to the article.

Translation by MaryL
Typing by Lissie -thank you so much... Thank you to Rose too (but too late)

Pour le scan de la version francaise, envoyez un mail a :


Lissie said...

Hey Queeny!

Am free send the stuff to me & i will type for you!

Luv ya


Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

it's MaryL

anonymous : we've had the link but i won't publish it -that's his life & he doesn't wanna comment on it so i won't publish anything related to the rpivacy :)

lissie : thanks!

Adeline said...

Love this article!
It's so nice to hear from his folks...
We're wainting for him for the super 14!

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