PROUD McCAW SALUTES TRIUMPHANT ALL BLACKS
New Zealand captain Richie McCaw hailed his team's courage and desire after they ended 24 years of hurt by winning the closest final in World Cup history.
Richard Hugh "Richie" McCaw (born 31 December 1980 in Oamaru, North Otago) is a New Zealand rugby union player, and is the current test captain. He plays in the openside flanker position for the New Zealand, Crusaders and Canterbury rugby teams. McCaw is considered one of the best openside flankers of all time, with his ability to anticipate play and adaptability to the referee's rulings two of his key attributes. He was raised in rural North Otago, before moving to Dunedin in 1994 to board at Otago Boys' High School. In 1999 he moved to Christchurch to study at Lincoln University and was selected in the national under-19 rugby union team. The following year he played for the Under 21s and Canterbury in the National Provincial Championship, before debuting in 2001 for the Crusaders in the Super 14.
McCaw was selected for the 2001 New Zealand National Rugby Team's end-of-year tour, despite having played only a total of eight minutes of Super 14 rugby. His debut for the All Blacks was against Ireland, where he put in a man-of-the-match performance and was selected as New Zealand's first choice open-side flanker for the 2003 World Cup. McCaw became a regular selection in the New Zealand national rugby team, only missing a few games due to reoccurring concussions. In 2006 he was named captain of the All Blacks. He led the All Blacks at the 2007 World Cup and his captaincy came under criticism after they were knocked out in the quarter-final. He continued to captain the All Blacks and lead the team to victory in the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
During McCaw's rugby career Canterbury won the NPC (later ITM Cup) five times and the Crusaders reached the Super Rugby semi-finals nine times, going on to win the final on four of these occasions. Since his debut the All Blacks have won seven Tri Nations titles, completed three successful Grand Slam tours and won the Bledisloe Cup eight times. In 2010 McCaw played his 100th Super Rugby game, made a record-equalling 94th test appearance for his country and became New Zealands most capped All Black captain, leading the side in 57 test matches. He has been named the International Rugby Board (IRB) International Player of The Year a record three times. In 2010 his contract was NZ$750,000 per year, making him the equal highest paid player in New Zealand. In the 2011 World Cup Pool game against France McCaw became the first All Black to reach 100 caps. On the 23rd of October, McCaw led his team to their second world cup title in 24 years by beating France 8-7 in the final of the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
Awarded PLAYER OF THE YEAR