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.
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.