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The Open Side, Richie McCaw

After reading Peter Lineham and Stuart lange's books, reading McCaw's book was somewhat like eating a McDonald's burger after a two course five-star restaurant feed. The book is light, blokey, and spiritually and intellectually unsatisfying. Not that Richie McCaw and Greg McGee's work is poor, indeed it is fascinating, but it lacks real depth and critical analysis.

I deeply admire Richie McCaw as a rugby player. He is undoubtedly the greatest in this generation, ahead of other greats like Jones, Brooke, Fitzpatrick, and DC, as McCaw calls him.

What strikes me is that he is a real individualist. He is deeply motivated to the greatness he has achieved. While the book lacks critical assessment of almost anyone, coaches, players, and the game itself, he is deeply introspective with the desire to be better and better. He humbly recognises his weaknesses as a leader in 2007. The following four years show his ability to grow into a great leader. His love of gliding shows a deeper interest in life, and a very intelligent man.

He also understands there is more to life than rugby. He is loyal to a world wider than the sport, especially to his family. His rejection if the knighthood shows his depth. Yes this sits below the veneer of the quintessential Kiwi bloke. He embodies the ideals of the kiwi bloke indeed. That said, I would love to sit with Richie and hear what he really thinks!

As a theologian I read the book for signs of his spirituality. Indeed, I even remember hearing from someone once that he is a Christian. Well there is no sign of that. He recognises that Brad Thorn is religious. Yet he shows no spiritual interest at all saying on pg. 196, 'If I was religious, I would be praying...' These are not the words of a openly spiritual man. Yet his reflections on gliding show a deep respect for creation.

I was intrigued by his comparisons between the Wallabies and the Springboks. The Wallabies are distant and not interested in socialising. The Springboks on the other hand, enjoyed a post match chat. Says a lot about the two teams in the last ten years. All I all it was a great, if somewhat shallow, read. I hope the next chapters lead to a win in 2015, that would top a great rugby career. Or is it one year too far?


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