Richie McCaw on the Test match jersey swap he will forever cherish 1 month ago

Richie McCaw on the Test match jersey swap he will forever cherish

"I have a lot of time for the Irish in how they approach life and, certainly, rugby."

Richie McCaw played Ireland 14 times in his long and successful Test rugby career. He finished with a 14-0 record.


The former All Blacks captain made his Test debut at Lansdowne Road in November 2001, in team that included the legendary likes of Tana Umaga, Anton Oliver, Doug Howlett and Jonah Lomu.

McCaw, Dave Hewett and Aaron Mauger all made their debuts against Ireland, that day, and must have been wondering if they had bitten off more than they could chew, after 40 minutes. Ireland led 16-7 at the break, and the home crowd, sensing a first ever Test win over the ABs, were fired up.

The second half was a blow-out, however, as New Zealand ran in five tries and Andrew Mehrtens kicked four conversions. The final score was 40-21, with McCaw picking up the man-of-the-match award. In The All Blacks Podcast, McCaw looked back on that Test debut, and an extremely sound post-match gesture from his opposite number.


Richie McCaw Richie McCaw captain of the All Blacks claps off David Wallace and the Irish team, at Croke Park, in 2008. (Photo by Ross Land/Getty Images)

Richie McCaw on being gifted an Ireland No.7 jersey

During all his times playing in Ireland, Richie McCaw was always blown away by the deathly silence when goal-kickers on both sides were lining up shots at the posts. He recalls being shook by the trains rumbling so close to the Lansdowne Road ground, as he got set in the 'away' changing room.


He also spoke of how, in his Irish tour experiences, how rugby union brought together the Catholic and Protestant communities. "I didn't understand all that until after a couple of times being there," he says, "and that is really the power of sport."

The 'real memory' around his debut was post-match Test cap presentation ceremony, at a dinner with the New Zealand and Ireland sides.

"The Irish were pretty good," he said, "because their tradition is, anyone who comes over to a guy who got his first cap and offers him a drink, you have to drink it with him. So, 30-odd Irish guys and 15, 20-odd Kiwi guys, it makes for a pretty long night!"

Ahead of all those post-match ceremonies, traditions and drinks, there was a moment in the changing room that he will forever cherish. McCaw said:


"The Irish love the game, just like we do. The one memory I have from the game was of David Wallace, their number 7.

"He came up to me, after the game, and I thought it was to swap jerseys. There was no way I was going to swap, as it was my first cap jersey. But David said, 'I understand that, but here's my jersey for you to keep. I thought that was pretty cool."

One hopes Richie McCaw did eventually catch up with Wallace, in their Test meetings after that day at Lansdowne Road, and make it up to the Munster legend with a black No.7 that he had graced.

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