Richie McCaw joins elite order, misses knighthood
World Cup-winning All Blacks captain Richie (Richard Hugh) McCaw is not yet “Sir Richard” but he has joined the most elite group of living New Zealanders.
Mr McCaw has been made a member the Order of New Zealand (ONZ), the country’s highest honour and reserved for a maximum of just 20 people.
Reportedly, he has previously turned down a knighthood. Admission to the ONZ can only be made if there are vacancies.
The previous person to be admitted as an ordinary member was Sir Peter Gluckman in the 2015 Queen’s Birthday Honours.
There are also eight “additional” members, including the Duke of Edinburgh, and one honorary member, Sir Shridath Rampal, a former Commonwealth secretary-general.
With Mr McCaw’s selection, the ONZ has just one vacancy. He joins three former prime ministers, leading sports personalities, a Catholic cardinal, an architect, opera singer and other distinguished Kiwis.
Last month, Mr McCaw announced his retirement from professional rugby to start a career as a commercial helicopter pilot.
He was first selected for the All Blacks in 2001 and became captain in 2006.
Many regard him as this country’s finest rugby player.
He will feature in a new documentary film, with the working title of The End Game, that is due for release early in the new year.
Among many milestones, he captained the All Blacks to victory in two World Cups; was the first All Black to reach 100 Tests; the first in the world to achieve 100 caps as captain and holds the world record of 148 Test caps.
He has been named the International Rugby Board’s International Player of the Year three times in 2006, 2009 and 2010.
Other awards include the Halberg Sportsman of the Year in 2011 and 2012.
Off the field, he was a founding trustee in 2009 of the For Everyone Charitable Foundation (now iSport), which provides grants for youth sport.
He is patron of the CatWalk Trust, which supports research into cures for spinal cord injuries.
His autobiography, Richie McCaw: The Open Side, was co-written with Greg McGee and released in October 2012. In the UK and US it is known as The Real McCaw.