Thoughts on a G.A.B (Great All Black) ~ Chasing Great movie

I’m the first to admit that up until a few years ago, I had little time and zero interest in rugby. I would catch snippets as I passed by the TV while my husband watched the odd test, and roll my eyes as he shouted encouragement at the screen. Puh-lease. It was just a bunch of dudes in shorts running around a muddy field.

And in fact, it took until the 2011 Rugby World Cup final for me to watch a whole televised game. Even I, the eye-roller, stopped fidgeting in my chair as the tension roiled around the room up until the final moments when the whistle blew. And yes, even I leaped to my feet and whooped as the All Blacks won the cup. I’ve only ever seen one test match live, and that was played in my home city of Wellington with the All Blacks annihilating the Springboks – what a buzz in the stadium and actually seeing Richie McCaw score a try…wow! Fast forward to the 2015 Rugby World Cup final, and those who know me were super-impressed that I got up at 5 a.m to watch the All Blacks take on the Wallabies and win.

While I don’t think I’ll ever be in love with the game, I have a fascination with the type of character it takes to succeed in such an all consuming and taxing sport. Rugby is raw, intense and yeah, brutal both physically and mentally. At least to the men and women who play it. So when I saw an advert for Chasing Great, the Richie McCaw documentary/movie, I rallied up some rugby loving friends (and my Miss 15 who didn’t want to miss out on a free movie!) and booked the back row of our local theater. Back row, get it? If you’re a rugby fan, you’ll understand the pun. I still don’t understand 90% of the rules, but that’s not why I wanted to see Chasing Great.

Richie movie

I can’t write a review on the technical/sports side of Chasing Great, because my lack of knowledge wouldn’t do it justice. If you’re a fan, I apologize now for any previous errors of terminology, and any errors to come. What I can say about the documentary was that it held my attention, and even the attention of Miss 15 who has even less interest in rugby than I do. 

Richie McCaw fascinates me. He’s guarded and stoic, focused with a gaze so intense I imagine it would blister if it landed on you. I am immensely impressed at his dedication and unswerving ambition to be the best. I enjoyed getting a little peek behind the scenes of his life, and imagining how a young boy who was often regarded as ‘small’ and an average player in his early years, became a G.A.B. Not just an All Black, but a Great All Black.

Watching Chasing Great is just one of many steps I’ll be taking in the next few months to find out more about the game and the men who represent my country in this sport. The 4th book in my Far North series MEND YOUR HEART (which I’m hoping to start writing early in the new year) features a former All Black with a mighty chip on his shoulder and a woman he wants but can’t have without breaking her heart for the second time.

If the Chasing Great does well in New Zealand, who knows, perhaps it’ll make it overseas since more and more people worldwide are discovering the excitement of the game.

Let me know in the comments if you’ve ever watched the All Blacks play.


Comments (6)

    • Tracey Alvarez


      Thanks Merrilyn! I’ve been really slack lately, so trying to improve my blog output! 🙂


  1. Kim


    I’m going to see them in Chicago in November on my birthday. And according to an interview he did right before the movie came out, Richie will be there, too. I still have the World Cup finals on the dvr, too. So excited to read about your All Black hero!

    • Tracey Alvarez


      Kimberly, you lucky thing you! Have a wonderful time, and don’t forget to let me know if you spot Richie in the crowd! 😉

      Tracey A.

  2. Gail Young


    Hi Tracey,
    Lucky in 2011 to be at Eden Park for two World Cup games. And watched every other game on TV. The past World Cup I was able to watch every game on TV (Sky) I am an avid, loud supporter of the All Blacks, no matter which country they are playing on the day.
    Kieran Reid has stepped into our GAB Richie McCaw’s shoes and we know he and the team will strive for all the same goals plus set some new ones.

    • Tracey Alvarez


      You really are a staunch fan, Gail – good onya! Kieran Reid has some big shoes to fill, but I’m sure he’ll do his best to continue upholding the All Black’s fearsome reputation on the sports field!


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