Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

The Rugby World Cup has been won... arise the knights of the All Blacks

All Blacks Richard Kahui clashes with France's Vincent Clerc. Photo / Richard Robinson
All Blacks Richard Kahui clashes with France's Vincent Clerc. Photo / Richard Robinson

All Black captain Richie McCaw and coach Graham Henry have claimed rugby's ultimate prize, but could their next accolade be the country's highest titular honour?

Before the tournament Prime Minister John Key said he hoped there was a knighthood waiting for captain McCaw if he won New Zealand the Webb Ellis Cup in the Rugby World Cup final

In 2009, Key told McCaw: "It's very simple. You lose the Rugby World Cup and in my mind you will always be Richie McCaw, a great bloke.

"And you win the World Cup, it's 'Arise, Sir Richard'."

He reiterated his stance, jokingly, in August.

All Black legend Sir Colin Meads said he felt McCaw fulfilled the criteria for a knighthood.

"It's not for me to say but the coach and the captain would be well in line for it, I think.

Richie's been a great leader. As he said, he probably wasn't a great leader four years ago but he's come of age."

If McCaw was knighted, he would be unlikely to receive the honour for years or even decades.

Squash world champion Dame Susan Devoy was the youngest New Zealand sportsperson to be knighted, aged 34, and the youngest since Sir Edmund Hillary, who also received the award at 34. McCaw is 30.

Dame Susan told the Herald one of the cup-winning All Blacks camp would "undoubtedly" be given the title "Sir".

"There has to be people from the World Cup who will be recognised in that way. Richie has been a magnificent leader, and it should be the captain. Sir Richie's got a nice ring to it, doesn't it? Or Sir Ted?"

However, she felt that individuals should not be knighted for sporting achievements alone.

"I would like to think that [my knighthood] was for some other contribution than my sporting one, otherwise it seems a bit shallow.

"If it's just for sport, you haven't made a difference in the world.

"There's no rhyme nor reason for [giving out knighthoods]. But I think a lot of sportspeople might feel like I did: How do you compare with someone who split the atom, who's done extraordinary things?"

Dame Susan felt that the Prime Minister's endorsement would be highly influential.

Five All Blacks have been knighted for their services to sport - Wilson Whineray, Brian Lochore, Colin Meads, Fred Allen and John Graham.

All of them were All Black captains at some stage and have had distinguished careers in business, coaching, charitable work or education since their retirement from the game.

Sir Wilson went on to gain a business degree at Harvard, before becoming chairman of Carter Holt Harvey and several other companies, and Sir John was headmaster of Auckland Grammar School for 22 years.

Two other NZ rugby representatives, Henry Braddon and Harcourt Caughey, were also knighted, but not for their contribution to sport.

David Kirk, the first All Black captain to win a World Cup, was made an MBE in 1987 for services to rugby.

Titled leaders

* Sir Wilson Whineray 1998, for services to rugby and business.
* Sir Brian Lochore1999, for services to sport and the community.
* Sir Colin Meads 2009, (exchanged Distinguished Companion for knighthood).
* Sir Fred Allen 2010, for services to rugby.
* Sir John Graham2011, for services to education and sports.

- NZ Herald

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