Richie McCaw in Japan inspiring the next generation

If you are involved in rugby, you will know rugby has a distinct set of values that shine out on and off the pitch. All Blacks legend Richie McCaw certainly lives and breathes those values.

McCaw is currently on a four-day charity tour of Japan on Friday and vowed to bring a smile to the faces of children affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake. Surely, it should be Saint McCaw!

“Rugby throughout the world has a set of values no matter where you play. It’s a similar ethos and culture — it’s about playing as a team.” McCaw stated to local press. “I think it’s a way of showing kids that working together and being strong and putting your mind to a goal means you can achieve anything. That’s the way I think sport in general, but certainly rugby, which can have a major influence on children’s lives.”

McCaw is in Japan on behalf of Support Our Kids, a charity established in the wake of the 2011 disaster to help children living in the affected areas.

McCaw will travel to Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture, to hold an event on Saturday with schoolchildren at the site where Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium is being built to stage matches at the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

“At the events, we want to see children with a smile on their face,” said McCaw. “Where they can see there’s hope from what they’ve had to go through. I guess my role is that I want to share my experiences in a rugby sense and an All Black sense. We used leadership, we used our strength to overcome the difficulties that we faced.”

Japan rugby international Kosei Ono, who was born in Nagoya but moved to New Zealand at the age of 3 and attended the same Christchurch high school as Carter, believes McCaw is the perfect ambassador for the charity.

“If you had to describe Richie in one word, it would be ‘legend,’ ” said fly half Ono, who was the top point-scorer in last season’s domestic Top League with champion team Suntory Sungoliath.

“He’s a rugby legend, and I think he’ll still be talked about in 100 or 200 years’ time. I’m looking forward to seeing him meet the kids and give them courage and make them smile and show them what a good game rugby is.”

e8652c5ce56fad59185c81cbb72c3451Ono is correct, legends like McCaw will live on and his legacy will be played on rugby fields, discussed in club houses and written about by rugby writers for years to come. In England we have a long list of legends who are held in such high esteem, people talk about certain players skills without ever seeing them play. We still talk about the batting legend of W.G Grace in cricket, the fancy footwork of Sir Stanley Matthews in football, and the wonderfully named, rugby legend, Prince Alexander Obolensky  in rugby.

Obolensky, who after a champagne and oysters breakfast, received a very late call up to play against the All Blacks in 1936 and scored two wonderful tries. Indeed, his effort were so admired, in what was the first victory against the All Black tourists, it was called the “Obolensky match”. Fame at only 20 years old was short lived, as he died in WW2 whilst training in a Hawker Hurricane over Suffolk.

To conclude, McCaw, you sir…are a legend.