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Appreciation for Richie McCaw

nickdnz

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I don't know if there is an objective way of saying who is the best of all time. Some would argue David Campese is the best try scorer of all time playing for a tier 1 nation and scoring scoring 64 tries. In 101 test matches I'd say that it's less impressive than someone like Christian Cullen who scored 46 tries in 58 tests. Same with McCaw - he managed one more try than Colin Charvis in 33 more tests. I think saying "he played for a great team" is a bit of a cop out as he was part of the team being great. No one would say "Sure, Michael Jordan was good - but the Chicago Bulls were a great team, they won heaps". I guess you can only really try and guess at the impact a player has had over their career. I'd certainly put Richie McCaw as the best openside flanker - but there isn't any objective criteria I'd argue defines it. He has accomplished an awful lot, has won pretty much everything a player playing for one team can. I would argue the accomplishments can go on longer:

He's won

4 NPCs
5 Super Rugby ***les
9 Rugby Championships
10 Bledisloe Cups
1 Lions Tour
1 Rugby World Cup
3 IRB Player of the Year (I don't care if you think he didn't deserve it in 2009 - in my opinion he deserved it in 2008 over Shane Williams, when he won everything at every level NPC, Super Rugby, June Series, Tri Nations, Grand Slam)

Then there are his individual records which have already been listed. He certainly has been with a lot of successful teams, but I'd argue teams generally more successful with McCaw. I hope we win the RWC in 2015 and then he calls it a day, as while he has been amazing it would be better for him to call it quits by then. He will probably be the most capped player of all time and go out without fading so dramatically. It's already clear he's not quite the McCaw he was 2003-2008.

As for people criticizing his arrogance. You're wrong. He's not arrogant. He's just stoic beyond the point of being personable. People in New Zealand have to watch him sell Versatile Homes on television - the 2 by 4 planks occasionally in the background looks like it could take his place and you would never know. Being boring isn't a crime.
 
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Peat

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I think saying "he played for a great team" is a bit of a cop out as he was part of the team being great.

It's not a cop out. The quality of a team will affect the quality of a player's chances to shine. It should be considered. So too should his role in making the team great, you're right, but it's about considering both.

If George Smith was a Kiwi, and McCaw was an Aussie, would we be having this thread? Or would we be having the thread with different names?
 

nickdnz

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It's not a cop out. The quality of a team will affect the quality of a player's chances to shine. It should be considered. So too should his role in making the team great, you're right, but it's about considering both.

If George Smith was a Kiwi, and McCaw was an Aussie, would we be having this thread? Or would we be having the thread with different names?

No - we'd be talking about how George Smith was actually poached from Tonga.
 

Big Ewis

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I think saying "he played for a great team" is a bit of a cop out as he was part of the team being great. No one would say "Sure, Michael Jordan was good - but the Chicago Bulls were a great team, they won heaps".

Basketball is played with 5 players on the court at one time for one team. Rugby is played with 15 on the field for one team. MJ did literally pick up his team on his shoulders and brought them places and single-handedly put Chicago on the map. He only started winning ***les when others came in and matured and they got the right coach though, but Mccaw and Jordan are for this instance incomparable as to their greatness and impact on a team. Mccaw takes care of one department and a Rugby field is 100m long, basketball court is under 30m. The impact of one single player in Rugby will never by definition be as important as one single bball player for bball.

The argument that Mccaw benefited from being an AB is undeniable. Most of those records in the OP are due to him playing for the best team ever.
For example, winning 114 int'l tests. That's obviously got very little to do with a personal record, and has lots more to do with the topic of All-Blacks dominance, he just happened to have played in those 114 games, and sure enough, played well under the 7 jersey, but a global team effort allowed this stat to occur.
Another: 81 wins as captain. That stat isn't that he "won 81 games because he was such a great captain", although some credit goes to him because he must've been a good skipper necessarily for that to happen.

Those numbers do look really great though, and that's one heck of a CV.

And about the 'total tries scored' vs 'tries scored in short period' thing, I refer back to basketball and say it comes down to proportional figures (in bball total points vs points per game). 'Tries per game' is the only stat I look at.

Lastly, about *objectively* setting one player as the best ever (for one position at least), stats can be enough to assess that in the NBA. Here in Rugby though, I can only call on mathematical basic rules: McCaw is a better OS flanker than, say, Alexandre Lapandry (10 caps for France, Clermont player). Fundamentally, if one player can be better than one other, then he is necessarily better or worse than any other player that exists. With the ultra-rare exception of two players being so close in impact/level they are humanly virtually indistinguishable. It gets much harder to judge when we're talking greatest ever because so many other names pop up, and very good cases could be made for each one of those other ones. But a fair, patient and pure assessment surely could allow someone with enough intelligence, integrity and knowledge of the history of the game to actually come up with a fairly objective ("objective enough !") conclusion.
It's hard to measure the impact of a player in Rugby, but that impact exists, it is a reality, so therefor simply through footage and then knowledge of the game, it can be assessed surely. Not by me !! I just like to watch Rugby !...
 

Canuck

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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.

Kirkpatrick was a legend! A couple of his full games are up on Youtube, you should check them out if you're interested in that sort of thing. I love watching some old games from the amateur era every now and then. My appreciation for guys like Colin Meads, Gareth Edwards, Danie Gerber comes from watching a few of their games and seeing how brilliant they really were. If they were around in the modern day and benefited from professionalism, a year round focus on the sport without worrying about another job, weight training etc, I have no doubt they would be among the best today.
 

ABs2011

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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 ?

The funny thing is, I believe the stats you provide above only begin to reflect how wonderful a rugby player and leader he really is.

Quite simply, he is the greatest rugby player I have ever seen.

Disc: watching rugby since '87
 

nzlizard

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For me McCaw is the best player ever pretty much, not just his skills but the effect he has on the team and the role he has grown into, same as above been watching rugby from about 86/87.

When Dan Carter was injured and out of the 2011 WC I didn't actually care as I said "so long as we have McCaw we can win", for me he made more impact on the field than anyone.

Sure all the stats are good but his rugby actions speak the loudest.

As for this arrogance, lol wtf really, what Richie does this guy watch?? I actually met someone who went to school with him once and was talking about him, Richie was head boy and played in the 1st XV and this guy reckons he was the nicest bloke you would ever meet, you couldn't hate him if you tried.
 
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