Richie McCaw is now the most capped All Black in history. On the weekend he surpassed Sir Colin Meads, a towering legend of the game with hands the size of dinner plates. The pub quip is that Meads hasn’t bought a beer in 40 years. Now he has someone to buy one for.
McCaw is only seven matches shy of equalling the all-time world record of 141 caps held by Brian O’Driscoll, the Irish general who retired earlier this year. There are six games left in 2014. History must wait.
And for the first time, McCaw has started to talk about his own mortality. The modern game is fast and physically brutal. He debuted at age 20. Captain at age 23. Today he is running around on 33-year-old legs, but he is still peerless as an open-side. The Wallabies have unearthed a quality fetcher in Michael Hooper, but he remains a young grasshopper by comparison.
McCaw gave a recent interview where he reflected on his career and there was a particular comment that resonated with me. As he says:
“When you get to my stage of career, you realise you’ve got to make the most of every time you get a chance to play, because they start running out.”
He spoke about how after being turfed out of the 2007 World Cup he spent the next four years desperately wanting to atone. He had a singular focus and lost some appreciation for the game. He lost the enjoyment. But today, he relishes every opportunity to pull on the black jersey, because he knows it won’t be forever. He knows it has to end. We know it has to end.
I understand exactly what he’s feeling. I’ve been unbelievably privileged to be Saatchi & Saatchi’s Global CEO, and now that I am in a transition stage, I’m making each and every day count as if it was the first, and the last.