‘I don’t think the All Blacks would have been successful had we not gone through that’
Richie McCaw won pretty much everything he could have during his illustrious 15-year long rugby career.
The New Zealand legend won two Rugby World Cups and 10 Tri Nations/Rugby Championships with the All Blacks, four Super Rugby titles with the Crusaders and three World Rugby Player of the Year awards.
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) January 17, 2021
However, the former All Blacks flanker did experience the odd low point in what was an overwhelmingly successful career.
The 2007 Rugby World Cup loss to France stands out as the worst moment in McCaw’s career, but the former All Blacks captain told the A Few Hard Men podcast that his country’s World Cup victories in 2011 and 2015 wouldn’t have been possible without it.
“People ask me what is the worst thing that happened to you in rugby? For a while I’d say the 2007 World Cup quarter-final but probably now I’d say it was one of the best things that happened to me.
“Because I wouldn’t have put the time and effort and work into what happened for the [next] eight years. I don’t think the All Blacks would have been successful for the [following] eight years had we not gone through that,” McCaw explained.
‘It showed how tough it is to actually win a World Cup’
New Zealand were favourites to win the World Cup in 2007, having been the number one-ranked side in the world for the three years leading up to the tournament.
The All Blacks eased to four bonus-point wins in the pool stages of the tournament, racking up an astonishing 274 points difference in their four games, but suffered their earliest World Cup-exit ever with defeat to the French.
“Yes, it was tough at the time but the learnings we got out of it and where it took us, the path it took us, wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t gone through that.
“It showed you how tough it is to actually win a World Cup. It put that right in perspective. You never took anything for granted after that,” McCaw commented.
The Kiwis proved beyond doubt that they had learnt plenty from their gut-wrenching quarter-final defeat, as McCaw captained the side to World Cup titles at the following two tournaments.