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Work Super Hard And You Might Be A Great All Black: The Richie McCaw Story

Work Super Hard And You Might Be A Great All Black: The Richie McCaw Story

Aug 30, 2016 Film & TV

I think the key takeaway from Chasing Great (AKA The Richie McCaw Movie) is meant to be that I too could grow up to be a Great All Black if I was a boy growing up in Canterbury walking sheep on a lead and I devoted my life to winning and I wrote on a napkin that I want to be a Great All Black and worked like super hard.

Alas, I am not a small boy who grew up in Canterbury walking sheep on a lead. And instead of going to boarding school and getting As in everything, I just got drunk and pashed at least one Wellington NPC player. At least he said he played for Wellington.

And here we are. Richie McCaw – The GOAT. The Greatest of All Time who worked super hard and now he has two World Cups and his own movie. And I’m in bed eating a reheated burger writing about it.

Life is full of winners and losers. And I think that’s what this movie is supposed to be about – anyone can be a winner. You just need to be a slightly terrifying type-A personality who puts their life on hold to fulfil the dream of an entire country hating you for a period but then loving you for a much longer period.

Or something. I’m pretty sure Richie McCaw isn’t the only kid in New Zealand who grew up wanting to be an All Black. And there’s only one Richie McCaw. So, like, follow your dreams but you’re probably not Richie McCaw. But one day you might be able to scam a babe into a pash at a party full of stoners singing Ben Harper and playing bongos. Chase Great-ish.

I’m sorry but this movie isn’t The Secret slash #inspo for men who don’t cry. There’s no AHA! moment where you work out what makes Richie McCaw Richie McCaw. It’s just like – he worked really hard, never cried until that one time he almost cried but you honestly couldn’t tell, went to a sports psychologist, wrote stuff down and yeah, did I mention he worked really hard? Like while you were eating burgers, Richie McCaw was running and shit and writing stuff down and watching videos of Richie McCaw.

He’s just better than you. Who knows why? Just accept it. That’s literally it.

This movie could have been a TV documentary. It could have been a 60 Minutes segment. And just the first half of 60 minutes, not even the full bit.

Please don’t hunt me down and arrest me for treason. I do absolutely accept Richie McCaw as our lord and saviour. But this movie could have been a TV documentary. It could have been a 60 Minutes segment. And just the first half of 60 minutes, not even the full bit. It’s more than 100 minutes.

I’m sorry, I know you’re not allowed to talk this way – but it’s not Richie, I promise. He seems like a lovely chap. He really does. And I’m grateful he won all those games and stuff and he’s got great thighs and the movie does give us a lot in the Richie McCaw’s thighs department.

You know how on reality TV you’re meant to have a tragic back story? There isn’t one. His family is in the movie and every conversation they’re in is the least believable thing I’ve ever seen in a documentary. I’ve seen better acting at my three year-old’s Matariki concert. And fair enough, they’re ordinary people. But don’t drag them into a documentary they don’t want to be part of. It’s like they’re pretending to be a family.

His fiancé looks like she’s reading from a teleprompter through the few scenes she is in. Again, not her fault. She’s not an actress and she, like everyone else in the McCaw family, doesn’t seem to want to be in this documentary.

And they try to make that Rugby World Cup loss (you know the one we lost, I’ve forgotten the team already – I think it’s France) his Terrible Thing He Must Overcome. And all I kept thinking was, can’t we go a bit deeper than this? Deeper than, we needed to work out why we lost, because yeah, that’s probably a good thing to do.

Richie with Director-Justin-Pemberton-BTS2
Richie McCaw with director Justin Pemberton.

But: what did Richie McCaw think about the absolutely batshit way the country reacted to that loss? Remember when the whole country just totally lost their shit and wanted him and Ted dead? I felt so bad about it I wrote Graham Henry a letter that said, “Hey it’s OK just hang in there – everyone has bad days. And I’m sure people will forget if you win the next one.” Because I have some real strong Dad Feels for Graham Henry. I know it’s weird but we all have our things.

Back to my point – at no point does he look at the camera and say, “Yeah, that was pretty fucked, aye? When everyone was acting like I’d murdered someone.”

What was it like to come back to New Zealand after that? To read the headlines? Did people yell at him?

And there is talk about redemption but even that’s not the dominant narrative of the film – and we all know they eventually beat France. Spoiler alert.

Nope. It’s all about how he had to work out why the All Blacks mentally can’t handle World Cups and then he worked it out (I don’t know how, but it involved sitting in boardrooms with a psychologist late at night while a drone filmed them from outside) and he worked super hard and then they won.

I get that Work Super Hard And You Might Be A Great All Black: The Richie McCaw Story probably isn’t as punchy but really, that’s it. It’s inspirational only if you truly think anyone could just write down on a napkin Be A Great All Black and then just grow up and be Richie McCaw.

I don’t think anyone can just do that. Otherwise we would have more Richie McCaws. A great many people have to eat burgers and be mediocre.

I do have an overwhelming desire to visit Canterbury. So, well done Canterbury Tourism Board.

And I thought there might be some locker room nudity. Although there are wet rugby players in slow motion which did bump up my rating by at least three points. What can I say? I’m a patriot.

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