After 137 appearances for the All Blacks, a hundred of those as captain and a world cup winners medal, is it time for Richie McCaw to be officially recognised in Oamaru?
Granted, New Zealand’s most-capped All Black spent his formative years in the Hakataramea Valley but McCaw was born in Oamaru and played junior rugby for Kurow and North Otago, yet, despite his astonishing achievements, there is no statue looking over the town, no junior tournament named in his honour or even a plaque to commemorate the birth place of the greatest All Black of all.
Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said he would be supportive if a project was planned, but felt permanent recognition should come after the flanker hangs his boots up.
“I think he’s definitely one of our favourite sons, that we’re happy stake a claim over and acknowledge his connection,” he said.
“We’ll also need to be mindful that he’s a modest chap and he’d have to be on board with it, but I would be supportive of it, it would be good to acknowledge the contribution he’s made to New Zealand sport.”
McCaw became a life member of Kurow Rugby Club last year, and club president Hamish Thompson believes the 33-year-old’s achievements should be honoured locally.
“It would be a good idea, he’s thoroughly deserved it, he’s a top guy and a good Kurow man,” he said.
Otago Daily Times sports editor Hayden Meikle also feels more should be done to celebrate McCaw’s ties with the region.
“I don’t feel enough has been done,” he said
“There was a sign, just south of Oamaru, I’m not sure if it’s still there , it said he was born here but it had Richie miss-spelt with a t in.
“I think he’s our greatest All Black, 100 tests as captain is a phenomenal achievement.
“He was born in Oamaru, played junior rugby for North Otago, he wore the gold jersey, and played for Kurow.
“I think it should be recognised that our greatest All Black is from here, a statue would be great, the ties are still strong and I think we should celebrate that.”
He may never have attended Otago Boys’ High School before heading north Lincoln University and then donning the red of Canterbury and the Crusaders but Oamaru can still be proud that Richie McCaw’s roots are local, and that should be celebrated.
By JAMES FORD
PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES – Richie McCaw.