Gregor Paul selects his World XV for 2015 which features 6 All Blacks, 3 Australians and Argentinians, and 1 Fijian, Georgian and Scotsman — and nobody from South Africa, England, Ireland, Wales or France.
15 Ben Smith (New Zealand):
Ben from all accounts had an outrageously good season. He captained the Highlanders to the most unlikely Super Rugby title and then inspired the All Blacks to a World Cup victory. His aerial skills and footwork are unbelievable.
14 Adam Ashley-Cooper(Australia):
Ashley-Cooper is the Wallaby version of Smith. He’s a superb all-round footballer who continually does the right thing. Has pace, footwork, awareness and the ability to covert half-chances. Was deadly at the World Cup.
13 Mark Bennett (Scotland):
A rugged, tough ball runner with innate timing. Picked off the intercept try in the World Cup quarter-final that should have sunk Australia and contributed some big tackling and deft passing.
Richie McCaw has confirmed he is hanging up his boots and retiring from professional rugby.
The 34-year-old All Blacks captain and most capped All Black of all time has drawn the curtain on his stunning international career which started in Dublin 14 years ago, almost to the day, and ended in London last month when he hoisted the Webb Ellis Cup aloft for the 2nd time.
McCaw announced his decision at a media conference at the New Zealand Rugby offices in Wellington on Thursday.
“I’m hanging up my boots having accomplished everything I could have ever dreamed about in the game. Knowing that I was able to end my career by helping the All Blacks win the Rugby World Cup Final is a hugely satisfying feeling,” he said.
Double Rugby World Cup-winning captain Richie McCaw is expected to confirm his decision to retire from rugby this week, New Zealand media reported on Sunday.
McCaw, who turns 35 on 31 December, led the All Blacks to their 3rd Rugby World Cup triumph 2 weeks ago when his side beat trans-Tasman rivals Australia 34 / 17 in the final at a packed Twickenham stadium in London.
The All Blacks were the 1st team to retain the trophy, after the openside flanker led the team to victory in 2011 while playing with a broken foot.
McCaw had done little to dampen expectations that he would retire after this year’s Rugby World Cup, though never explicitly said he would, preferring to state he would not make up his mind until the global showpiece ended.
He was not named last month in the Canterbury Super Rugby squad for 2016 though New Zealand Rugby (NZR) and the Crusaders said there was space for him if he chose to play on.
New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew says Rugby World Cup-winning captain Richie McCaw will make an announcement on his playing future “shortly”.
McCaw, who led New Zealand to victory at the 2011 and 2015 Rugby World Cups, indicated he would likely retire after this year’s tournament in England but is yet to make a definitive announcement.
His comments immediately after the All Blacks’ Cup final win over Australia suggested the 148-Test veteran might be considering continuing his international career.
Fans will be able to welcome back the All Blacks at homecoming celebrations in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington this week.
The All Blacks will travel home with the help of sponsor Air New Zealand which has sent an all black Boeing 777-300 to London to pick up the Rugby World Champions.
The team touches down on Wednesday morning at 07:00 NZ Time, arriving at Auckland International Airport before departing for an overnight stay in the city.
Aucklanders will then get a chance to celebrate their Rugby World Cup triumph at a very special event featuring the team at Victoria Park in central Auckland at midday.
The next day Christchurch will welcome the All Blacks with a street parade and official reception at Hagley Park. On Friday, Wellington will celebrate the All Blacks success with details and timing to be confirmed.
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw and coach Steve Hansen will be offered knighthoods following New Zealand’s Rugby World Cup triumph.
But the timing will depend on when they retire, Prime Minister John Key said on Monday.
McCaw, 34, has already turned down the honour once, after New Zealand’s 2011 tournament win, saying he did not feel it was right to accept while he was still playing.
Key was asked if the inspirational skipper would be approached again about putting a “Sir” before his name in the wake of the 34 / 17 Cup final win over Australia and said: “That’s right.”
However, he said the offer would remain on hold until McCaw decides his future.
Richie McCaw became the 1st man to lift the Rugby World Cup twice on Saturday and whether or not he opts to call it a day as an All Black, his place as the greatest leader of a rugby team the game has seen is assured.
Like the New Zealand juggernaut he has led with such distinction, McCaw has kept evolving and at the age of 34 his hunger for success and focus has been as intense as ever.
That the game’s outstanding loose forward has stood up to the demands of Test rugby for so long is a reflection of his durability, enthusiasm, consistency and the way he relishes pressure.
And he is not quite ready to bow out just yet.
“I still don’t want it to end. I’m still part of this team, I’m going to enjoy today, how can you have enough of this?,” he said after New Zealand beat Australia 34 / 17 to become Rugby World Cup winners for a record 3rd time.
All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw pleaded guilty to a “dumb” moment which saw him sin-binned as his side struggled to beat Argentina in their Rugby World Cup opener.
McCaw, the most capped player in Test rugby, got a Yellow Card for tripping Argentina’s Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe half an hour into the game.
The Pumas took advantage of his 10 minutes of exile and later of the Yellow Card of Conrad Smith to stamp their authority on the Pool C game.
“It was dumb,” McCaw said of the incident.
“It was a reflex thing. It wasn’t the right thing to do and we suffered because of it and put the team under pressure, which you can’t afford to do,” the much respected captain said after.
The sentiment was shared by New Zealand coach Steve Hansen who said: “The 2 Yellow Cards today were pretty dumb.
The International Rugby Players Association announced the appointments of Jonathan Sexton and Richie McCaw their Presidents.
Sexton and McCaw are the inaugural Presidents for the North and South respectively.
As 2 of the most recognised and respected players from around the world, both are seen as ideally placed to oversee and represent the collective voice of their fellow players from around the globe.
Both players are passionate about making a difference on issues of international importance to the players and the game.
Sexton and McCaw will take an active part on various IRPA Player Advisory Groups and will use their expert opinion and stature to build on the collaborative relationship with World Rugby, the international Governing Body.
A host of Crusaders could be playing their last ever Super Rugby match in Christchurch as the 7-time champs play host to the Reds this Friday.
Tom Taylor, Colin Slade, Dan Carter and Willi Heinz have all announced that they will be heading offshore after this season and Richie McCaw has also indicated that it could be his final season, which means it could be the last chance for Christchurch fans to see them in action for the Crusaders.
Friday night marks the team’s final game in Christchurch this season, unless they qualify for the Finals Series and earn the right to host.
All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw is “unlikely” to feature for the Crusaders in Saturday’s Super Rugby show down with the Hurricanes.
The Crusaders flanker was concussed in his team’s 14-point win over the Blues in Round 11 and will undergo tests over the coming days to determine his availability for the game against the competition leaders.
But Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder said no risks would be taken, and with the World Cup 4 months away, McCaw is likely to be given a week off.
“If he’s not right, there’s no way he will play, Richie,” Blackadder said.
Former Springbok coach Nick Mallett has noted that Crusaders flank Richie McCaw is getting caught out more by referees.
McCaw was penalised a few times in his side’s 31 / 19 Super Rugby defeat to the Vodacom Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday night.
Mallett analysed the game in the SuperSport studio afterwards.
He said: “Richie McCaw was penalised 3 or 4 times. He’s just getting caught by referees now for doing the things that he’s been doing so effectively over the last 5 to 10 years.
Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder wasted no time in bringing back All Black captain Richie McCaw for his team’s Super Rugby Round 7 encounter with the Vodacom Bulls.
The 7-time champion Crusaders start their South African tour against the 3-time champion Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday.
McCaw, who was rested last week as the Crusaders demolished the Cheetahs 57 / 14, replaces Matt Todd at openside flank – with the latter dropping down to the replacement bench.
In all Blackadder made 5 changes to his starting line-up for the trip to Loftus Versfeld.
Blackadder has made 2 rotations in the front row, with prop Joe Moody and hooker Ben Funnell coming in for All Black Wyatt Crockett and Codie Taylor respectively. Crockett and Taylor both drop to the bench.
Dan Carter, who last week started at inside centre, returns to his more customary role in the No 10 jersey.
Tom Taylor moves out one position to No 12 and Colin Slade will play off the bench.
All Black skipper Richie McCaw on Thursday dropped the strongest hint yet he will retire after this year’s World Cup in England and bring his glittering career to an end.
The 34-year-old captain of New Zealand, the reigning World Cup champions, admitted he was considering hanging up his boots, but was not yet ready to make a definitive announcement, preferring to focus on the ongoing Super Rugby season with the Crusaders.
“Honestly, I haven’t made any final decision, but probably the likelihood is I’m not going to be playing next year,” McCaw said at a Crusaders training session, in comments published on New Zealand Rugby’s official website.
The Crusaders will open the 2015 Super Rugby season this Friday night when they host the Melbourne Rebels in Christchurch.
Richie McCaw will start for the Crusaders for the first time in 2015, in one of 3 changes that head coach Todd Blackadder has made to the starting line-up that played a warm-up game against the Reds in Brisbane last week.
The other changes are Joe Moody starting at No 1 and Ben Funnell at hooker.
Before we start treating an All Blacks victory in Brisbane as a fait accompli its worth considering a few things.
It is true that the Wallabies are in a state of disarray, and must be vulnerable.
Their legacy of player power has come back to bite them, and it is extraordinary that their captain should be publically defending a repeat offending player ahead of the team unit, and by extension the coach.
Ewen McKenzie has tried to take a firm line in the past, but despite his strong actions on the end of year tour last year has been unable to instil a sense of no nonsense in the team.
Johannesburg’s Witwatersrand University. Two years ago Richie McCaw stood here in the middle of a huddle and gave his team both barrels.
They were hot, jet lagged, exhausted. Training was flat. With a few expletives thrown in, McCaw told them he didn’t care. He motioned to his head; now was the time to be mentally tough.
In this moment McCaw encapsulated his importance. His men, for the record, responded the following day with one of their best performances on South African soil, thumping the Springboks 32-16.
That McCaw is still producing those same speeches when necessary, still passing on the same mental edge, still walking them through the finer details the day before a test, is reassuring.
Richie McCaw will add another line to his long list of achievements on Saturday by matching Colin Meads as the most capped All Black ever.
The New Zealand captain will equal Meads’ record of 133 All Black appearances in La Plata against Argentina, in what will be his 132nd Test.
McCaw’s only non-Test appearance for the All Blacks came in 2009 when he captained the side against the Barbarians.
By contrast Meads, whose New Zealand career lasted 14 years from 1957-71, earned just 55 caps for his country, but featured a further 78 times for New Zealand.
The All Blacks may have been grounded in Auckland overnight after their flight to Santiago was cancelled, but their ambitions remain sky-high as they look to keep alive an unbeaten run dating back to November, 2012.
Former coach Sir Graham Henry created a few ripples when he suggested the world champions could do with some adversity ahead of their defence of the global crown next year in England.
Henry spoke of the benefits that come from regathering the forces following a defeat and wondered aloud if the All Blacks, who have lost only one test under Steve Hansen, might be the better for the introspection that follows a loss.
It came as an innocuous question from an All Black supporter on Twitter, but it summed up the feeling after Saturday’s epic Springboks-All Blacks test in Wellington.
“After that, don’t you wish Ellis Park could be next week?” he asked. The answer is a big resounding yes.
It wasn’t because we lost and wanted revenge. It wasn’t because the Boks will be kicking themselves for coming so close against the World Champions.
The All Blacks say South Africa have returned to their time-wasting antics, at the same ground where they first accused them of feigning injuries eight years ago.
Senior New Zealand players voiced their concern at the number of Springboks who sought medical treatment during the All Blacks 14-10 win in Wellington on Saturday.
Captain Richie McCaw and No 8 Kieran Read regularly remonstrated with French referee Jerome Garces, believing the tourists were deliberately slowing the speed of the Test to nullify New Zealand’s high-speed approach.
Yellow cards have been an unwanted feature of the All Blacks’ recent tests and Richie McCaw says enough is enough.
The All Blacks captain was one of the chief offenders when the All Blacks belted the Wallabies 51-20 at Eden Park a fortnight ago, having been sent to the sin-bin by French referee Romain Poite for needlessly playing the ball on the ground.
Ben Franks also copped a yellow card in the Auckland match and Wyatt Crockett and Beauden Barrett took an enforced rest against the Aussies in the first Bledisloe Cup test in Sydney.
Another Test, another couple of world records for All Blacks captain Richie McCaw.
The veteran flanker scored two tries, the third double of his 129-Test career, as New Zealand pummelled the Wallabies 51-20 in Auckland to retain the Bledisloe Cup.
In doing so, he took his tally to 23 tries, the most in Tests by any forward from a tier-one nation.
The previous record was 22, scored by former Wales No 8 Colin Charvis.
McCaw, 33, also holds the record for the most tries by any player against a tier-one opponent, surpassing a number of prolific outside backs.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen disagrees Richie McCaw is a fading force but insists neither he, nor his captain, will be afraid to make the right call to end his illustrious career.
On either side of the Tasman, there are growing concerns an ageing McCaw won’t make it to next year’s World Cup.
The past few years has seen Rugby’s world be dominated by one group of Villains that we have come to respect, hate, admire, deride, sledge and applaud. Let’s take a look at these Bad Guys and their alter-egos – whilst not forgetting that most of these guys eventually get their comeuppance. – Enjoy!
15. Ben Smith -Keyser Soze – The usual Suspects
This is one of those moments where we are lulled into a false sense of security. The guy looks harmless enough and seems to melt into the background when surrounded by other more unsavory types. But it is with the Big reveal that things unfold and the manipulator truly emerges.
The New Zealand media is an unforgiving animal, pouncing at the very first sight of a potential weakness.
In the wake of a rare draw, after a 17-Test winning run, the question is now being raised: ‘Is this All Black team on the slide?’
NZ Herald columnist Chris Rattue suggested the All Blacks appeared to have peaked and are now sliding towards rugby mortality – where the rest of the world resides.
“Are these All Blacks any longer the indomitable force that we like to portray them as?,” Rattue suggested.
The All Blacks were left feeling “hollow” and “gutted” after their record-equalling test win streak came to a limp end on Saturday night at the Olympic stadium.
To that they might have added relieved at escaping with a draw they scarcely deserved.
Truth be told, the All Blacks were fortunate indeed to slip out of Sydney with a 12-12 stalemate that was flattering to them, after being outplayed in the second half by a Wallabies outfit who just weren’t good enough to close out a victory that was theirs for the taking.
All Blacks centre Conrad Smith is out of tomorrow’s Bledisloe Cup test in Sydney after returning home for the birth of his first child.
Smith will join wife Lee-Ann in Wellington, with Canterbury midfielder Ryan Crotty called in as cover and likely to start from the bench. Malakai Fekitoa is expected to take Smith’s spot at centre outside Ma’a Nonu.
Two of the Crusaders’ favourite sons were ironically also their own worst enemies during an epic Super Rugby final last night, as Richie McCaw and Andrew Mehrtens both made significant contributions to the Waratahs’ historic triumph.
The All Blacks captain was a focal point of the Waratahs’ match-winning penalty in the final minute at ANZ Stadium while Mehrtens – who famously confirmed the Crusaders third title in Canberra in 2000 with a coolly taken three-pointer – played a more peripheral role in the Waratahs dramatic 33-32 victory.
Ultimately it was Wallabies flyhalf Bernard Foley who took centre stage by directing his seventh successful penalty attempt just clear of the crossbar with less than 30 seconds to play in a contest that completed the Waratahs resurrection as the dominant force in Australian rugby.
It couldn’t be a more familiar sight. The Crusaders, Super Rugby’s most successful team, arriving to play in another final and Richie McCaw, the most capped All Black ever, sporting a freshly stitched gash under his eye.
The team from Christchurch is after its eighth title and, even away from home, bookmakers are taking three times the money from punters on a Crusaders win.
The Crusaders have history on their side, having beaten the Waratahs in two previous Super Rugby finals.
But this time they are in Sydney, where they haven’t played all season, and McCaw is paying no attention to past records.
Crusaders flanker Richie McCaw knows from past experience, both sweet and bitter, that a crucial moment can decide Saturday’s Super Rugby final result against the Waratahs in Sydney.
“When it comes down to one or two moments, the teams that are good enough to take those opportunities are the ones that win,” the All Blacks captain said.
“If you drop your guard for one or two moments, you’ll come second.”
He will be making his eighth Super final appearance, the first being in 2002 against the Waratahs when the Crusaders won the competition for the fourth time.
For Richie McCaw the job of preparing for big rugby matches should be as simple as flicking dust off his shoes.
That, he says, is nonsense – the anxiety will never go away.
Despite playing 113 tests, appearing in three World Cups and making 137 appearances for the Crusaders, the 33-year-old flanker still finds himself burning-off nervous energy ahead of crucial matches such as Saturday night’s Super Rugby grand final against the Waratahs in Sydney.
New Zealand exhales. Turns out rumours of the decline of Richie McCaw and Daniel Carter have been greatly exaggerated.
McCaw and Carter both produced timely high-quality performances in Christchurch tonight as the Crusaders won through to their 11th – yes, 11th – Super Rugby final with a 38-6 dismantling of the Sharks. The Red ‘n Blacks are now 80 minutes away from their eighth championship – but notably a first since 2008.
On a night when Kieran Read illuminated the big occasion with a stellar demonstration of his remarkable quality, and Fijian find of the year Nemani Nadolo was equally as destructive, the old soldiers McCaw and Carter were not a million miles off the standard set by the best player in the world.
With Read, this sort of stuff is as predictable as it is enjoyable. He is a colossus of the game completely at the peak of his powers. His every minute on the field these days is to be savoured.
He endured the pain of a broken bone in his foot during the 2011 World Cup but Richie McCaw said that was a doddle compared to playing with a fractured rib.
All Blacks captain McCaw hurt his rib in the second test against England on May June 14 and, thinking it was just bruising, he ignored the discomfort to play the third test a week later.
During that match, however, McCaw knew something was seriously wrong.
“By the end of that third test I was pretty sore. With an injured foot it doesn’t hurt when you go into contact – it is only when you are running.”
All Black captain Richie McCaw is likely to start for the Crusaders in their Super Rugby Semi-Final against the Sharks in Christchurch on Saturday.
McCaw, who has not played since fracturing a rib while captaining the All Blacks against England last month, took part in the Crusaders’ training session on Monday.
Assistant coach Tabai Matson said that McCaw only needed to emerge unscathed from training over the next two days to confirm his place in the side for the match at AMI Stadium.