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Appreciation for Richie McCaw

Big Ewis

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An article just came out on Rugbyrama about McCaw and his records, and his accumulated achievements are just awe-inspiring.
He's the kind of player you love having on your team and dread having to face, for obvious reasons on both ends.

I've taken the time to translate his records from the article for you conts:


  • with 129 selections, he's the highest capped forward ever (4th overall along with O'Driscoll, Gregan et O'Gara).
  • with 114 international wins, another world record. McCaw is in fact the only one beyond 100.
  • with 92 matches as captain, he's established the best win record.
  • he's got a high win record (89,14%). Amongst the 496 players with 50 caps or more, only Conrad Smith (77 selections, 90,25%) and Sam Whitelock (56 sélections, 91,07%) have done better.
  • 81 wins as captain (world record).
  • 23 tries scored (world record for a Tier 1 forward). Only Mamuka Gorgodze (Georgia, 24) and Diego Ormaechea (Uruguay, 41) have done better.
  • 11 tries vs Australia (record for one player vs one Tier 1 nation).


Now, a lot can be said about him and his way of playing the game, but this just looks awesome on paper, all listed out like that. He must be the most lackluster player to have accumulated so much though.

Keeping in mind he benefits astronomically from being an All-Black, looking at those records for example, would you say he deserves the 7 shirt in an all-time World XV no matter what ?
 
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Canuck

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My personal opinion may be somewhat biased but I do think he receives a bit too much credit as far as wins goes. While he has greatly contributed to the AB over the last decade, the amount of wins and sheer winning percentage are a team accomplishment not just an individual one. His record 3 IRB Player of the Year trophies is a better example of his individual brilliance and the admiration he receives in the international community.

At this point I would say he deserves the #7 shirt in an All-Time XV, especially if focusing on the modern era.

Part of his greatness is his longevity and how long he played at or near a peak level. IMO during their respective peaks Schalk Burger, George Smith, and Thierry Dusautoir all played at a comparative level to McCaw but they couldn't maintain that form for anywhere near as long as he did.

If going by players in the amateur era as well though I feel like Michael Jones, Peter Winterbottom and Jean Pierre-Rives were all fantastic players. While Winterbottom had the misfortune of playing on some middle of the pack England teams he's one of the greatest flankers I've ever seen.
 

Le Frére Alpha

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My personal opinion may be somewhat biased but I do think he receives a bit too much credit as far as wins goes. While he has greatly contributed to the AB over the last decade, the amount of wins and sheer winning percentage are a team accomplishment not just an individual one. His record 3 IRB Player of the Year trophies is a better example of his individual brilliance and the admiration he receives in the international community.

At this point I would say he deserves the #7 shirt in an All-Time XV, especially if focusing on the modern era.

Part of his greatness is his longevity and how long he played at or near a peak level. IMO during their respective peaks Schalk Burger, George Smith, and Thierry Dusautoir all played at a comparative level to McCaw but they couldn't maintain that form for anywhere near as long as he did.

If going by players in the amateur era as well though I feel like Michael Jones, Peter Winterbottom and Jean Pierre-Rives were all fantastic players. While Winterbottom had the misfortune of playing on some middle of the pack England teams he's one of the greatest flankers I've ever seen.
2 IRB player of the year awards as far as I'm concerned, '09 was a sham! I don't like McCaw at all myself, I think he comes across as quite arrogant and disrespecting in post game interviews and he's ridden his luck and reputation for the last 10% of his career but all that being said it's hard to disagree with the fact that he is the most successful international ever, a great player in a great team and his leadership skills can't be underrated. I've always found that when the All Blacks are at their very, very best he's not needed that much but when they're struggling he comes to the forefront which in my opinion is the sign of a great player. Similar to O'Driscoll, Johnson and Pelous.
 

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2 IRB player of the year awards as far as I'm concerned, '09 was a sham! I don't like McCaw at all myself, I think he comes across as quite arrogant and disrespecting in post game interviews and he's ridden his luck and reputation for the last 10% of his career but all that being said it's hard to disagree with the fact that he is the most successful international ever, a great player in a great team and his leadership skills can't be underrated. I've always found that when the All Blacks are at their very, very best he's not needed that much but when they're struggling he comes to the forefront which in my opinion is the sign of a great player. Similar to O'Driscoll, Johnson and Pelous.

Really? I've always thought he's come across as incredibly humble.
 

squirrel

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I've always thought he's abit aloof but you cant argue with his record and longevity, I don't think he's had a serious injury his whole career so he's made of the right stuff though I question what drugs they gave him in the world cup that allowed him to play with a broken bone in his foot.
 

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Like Canuck, I think the stats presented in the OP are more attributed to the All Blacks as a team rather than McCaw himself. I would like to see IRB and NZ PotY awards, career and average pilfers, tackles, line breaks and tries.

Now having said that, McCaw is to me the greatest #7 to play the game and in my opinion, the best player of all time. There is no question that he has benefited from playing on an All Blacks side that had been absolutely dominate for a decade but his individual brilliance (I too think he should have only won two IRB Player of the Year awards) over such a long period of time coupled with his leadership abilities give him the nod as the GoaT. Openside flanker is as far as I am concerned the second most important position on the field and McCaw had shown he is the best. A lot of people will claim he is a cheat - well guess what? That is one of the core roles of a fetcher. To read the referee and get away with murder as much as possible and in this sense, he is undoubtedly the best.

I'm always interested when I hear people say that McCaw has a big ego on him. I really wouldn't know and I'm sure other people are more qualified to comment but I have always been impressed with how McCaw (and Dan Carter for that matter) come across and present themselves.
 
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donmcdazzle

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Josh Kronfeld, Michael Jones.

There is no way Kronfeld was better than McCaw. At their peaks you would take McCaw, and McCaw has had a far better career longevity wise too.

I can't really comment on Michael Jones. I only remember him when he had switched to blindside and played for the blues - he seemed a bit washed up by then. I haven't seen enough of him at his peak to comment but again McCaw's longevity was obviously far better than his.
 

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2 IRB player of the year awards as far as I'm concerned, '09 was a sham! I don't like McCaw at all myself, I think he comes across as quite arrogant and disrespecting in post game interviews

What?

Seriously, you are totally misreading him. He is one of the most humble and least arrogant people you would ever want to meet.

I'd also add that, on the field, McCaw has been the most blatantly attacked player ever, No high profile player has ever had to suffer more targeted and intentional acts of malicious and violent foul play from opponents than him. He has been kicked, head-stamped, spear tackled, punched, elbowed, kneed, forearmed, swinging armed, stiff-armed and eye-gouged more than any other player in the game.
 

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To answer the OP, no, those stats don't make him a shoe-in for a greatest team of all time. I don't think any stats could do really, particularly those resting on team achievements. If they could, then maybe, but I just wouldn't judge on stats alone. Even the individual stats need context; he'd probably not be the most capped forward of all time if George Smith hadn't gone overseas, he probably wouldn't have the most tries if Neil Back hadn't been so royally messed around by England. Or imagine what Ian Kirkpatrick would have done if he'd played in the modern era with its much bigger international fixture list, not that I had any clue who he was before I rifled through wiki's list of leading rugby try scorers, but getting just shy of 1 try every 2 games as a forward is phenomenal. And so on.

Some talent though.
 

Le Frére Alpha

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@ Smartcooky and Mr Fish.

My two main cases of point are the NZ Ireland matches in 2012 (2nd test) and 2013. In the post match interview in 2011 he never mentioned Ireland once, didn't say anything about their performance and instead went on at length as to how poor the All Blacks were, which wasn't true, it was a case of that being the game the players turned up to in a season that saw most of them reach their domestic final and half won a rigorous European cup mixed with a coach who couldn't control his players. In 2013 he paid brief compliments to Ireland but unlike every other player interviewed failed to realise that they won that match only because they were the best team in the world, at the top of their game and full of confidence. Similar, iirc, against England in the last EOYT where it was a case of order is restored and they showed that England never should have beat them. It might be different for the SH sides but he has no respect for NH sides. I'll get the whole 'why should he, they've never given him a reason' but in the high majority of rugby games Ive lost, and I've been on the wrong end of some hammerings, the opposing teams captain has been respectful and said a few words to us after the game.

His arrogance and selfishness has helped bring him the success he's had and no one can do anything but respect that but as a NH rugby fan he has always rubbed me the wrong way.
 
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profitius

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That's not arrogance, that's just being a realist. Why should he pay Ireland false respect if Ireland has not earned it. He would be lying then which is something he might find difficult to do. He's no politician!
 

Le Frére Alpha

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That's not arrogance, that's just being a realist. Why should he pay Ireland false respect if Ireland has not earned it. He would be lying then which is something he might find difficult to do. He's no politician!
This is my last post on this matter, otherwise it'll just get *****y, I have my opinion, I accept it may seem as irrational to some as Nick's disliking of O'Driscoll seems to me, anyway the only man who could change it is McCaw himself.

When you share a rugby pitch with a team for 80 minutes, get injuries alongside them and give absolutely everything you have to beat them in the last play of the game, both of the aforementioned matches were like this, you respect that team. You may not respect their club or country but the 23 players who did all they could and failed to stop you winning by the finest of margins gains your respect as far as I'm concerned. I don't want to tarnish the thread as his achievements as an international are unparalleled but to me he comes across far worse in interviews than players like Carter, O'Driscoll, Matfield etc...
 
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TRF Mr Fish

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@ Smartcooky and Darwin.

My two main cases of point are the NZ Ireland matches in 2012 (2nd test) and 2013. In the post match interview in 2011 he never mentioned Ireland once, didn't say anything about their performance and instead went on at length as to how poor the All Blacks were, which wasn't true, it was a case of that being the game the players turned up to in a season that saw most of them reach their domestic final and half won a rigorous European cup mixed with a coach who couldn't control his players. In 2013 he paid brief compliments to Ireland but unlike every other player interviewed failed to realise that they won that match only because they were the best team in the world, at the top of their game and full of confidence. Similar, iirc, against England in the last EOYT where it was a case of order is restored and they showed that England never should have beat them. It might be different for the SH sides but he has no respect for NH sides. I'll get the whole 'why should he, they've never given him a reason' but in the high majority of rugby games Ive lost, and I've been on the wrong end of some hammerings, the opposing teams captain has been respectful and said a few words to us after the game.

His arrogance and selfishness has helped bring him the success he's had and no one can do anything but respect that but as a NH rugby fan he has always rubbed me the wrong way.

Aye? ;)
 

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Brilliant, but for mine Brad Thorn as a more impressive record - won pretty well everything there was to win in both Rugby League and Rugby Union.
 

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Brilliant, but for mine Brad Thorn as a more impressive record - won pretty well everything there was to win in both Rugby League and Rugby Union.

Two major trophies is all he's missing

Rugby League World Cup, which he will never get

Aviva Premiership, which he's got a shot at now
 

RoosTah

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Two major trophies is all he's missing

Rugby League World Cup, which he will never get

Aviva Premiership, which he's got a shot at now

Wasn't thorn in the 2000 RLWC Kangaroos squad? Either way... the guy is unparalleled. Richie will go down as a record breaking All Black, but Thorn will probably go down as the only player in history to play 10 years of both Rugby League and Union and win pretty well everything in both for two different countries.
 
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Dunno why Mccaw couldn't squeeze in a word for Ireland or whoever, but it's not "arrogance" if he doesn't anyways, it's just tough to admit the quality of the opposition seconds after the match sometimes, but I've seen him pay tribute to teams and players.
As far as his personality and what I could extract from written or filmed interviews, he's always tongue-in-cheek, screws around, always has a little smile on his face and seems to prefer very short answers with little detail, as if not wanting to spend too much time on topics. He's not a shy person, but does seem rather quite secretive. It goes hand in hand with his game, as far as I'm concerned: without being negative, that is *sneaky*. He looks to me like this guy who sort of knows there's a bit of crap on his name, understands what everybody thinks of him, but won't lose hair over it either and would rather take all things lightly.

Just one example, once, some old English lady (or kid, can't remember) gave him an England shirt as a gift, and he gave it back saying "sorry, not my size". Very elusive, and quite indirect.
 
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