Chris Rattue 's Opinion

Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Rattue: McCaw shows once again why he is revered

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Richie McCaw, left, and Samuel Whitelock, right, of the Crusaders look dejected after the Super Rugby Grand Final match between the Waratahs and the Crusaders. Photo / Getty Images
Richie McCaw, left, and Samuel Whitelock, right, of the Crusaders look dejected after the Super Rugby Grand Final match between the Waratahs and the Crusaders. Photo / Getty Images

Take another bow, Richie McCaw. Well, that's my position. There are others who may be hurling brickbats his way.

The great man's reaction to the Crusaders' Super 15 final defeat to the Waratahs, and his part in it, was just another example of why he is so revered. If you take out the pathetic claims from some opposing fans who have tried to portray him as a cheat, then his impossibly long and fantastic career has been virtually controversy free. He has even taken the illegal hits aimed his way on the chin, sometimes literally. It is hard to recall a word out of place, which is kind of disappointing from a media point of view, to be frank, but also to be admired. And he's done it again.

McCaw's reaction to the late ruck call against him in Sydney - which gave the Waratahs their winning penalty - was spot on, and even generous towards referee Craig Joubert. Whatever the rights and wrongs, McCaw was annoyed at himself for giving Joubert a decision to make.

To my eyes, McCaw was actually drawn into the grey area because the bloke running at him fell over, but he didn't bother to mention that or use it as an excuse. He takes the rough with the smooth.

I thought it was a stupid call by Joubert. But what would I know? What would anybody know with a lot of rugby decisions? The Waratahs' replacement hooker, Tolu Latu, ran at McCaw then slipped as the two were about to make full contact and Joubert made some ruling about McCaw not being the tackler and entering the ruck illegally. I think.

What came next is what comes next with many decisions in rugby - confusion. Colleagues said they didn't have a clue either. Rugby is a game dominated by so many contentious moments that it becomes pointless debating them. None of us are Crusaders or Waratahs supporters - although I'm in any camp that reveres the amazing, stupendous, once-in-a-lifetime McCaw - so emotion was low.

These same colleagues then launched into their own experience of sport, as spectators and participants, where their views of incidents was completely at odds with opponents or fellow spectators. Sports bias is so extreme that a pass which has travelled five metres forward looks like it is going backwards. Or to put it another way, a pass that has travelled backwards looks like it has gone five metres forward. Observers can sound like scientists to justify their position. Sport is portrayed as healthy, but its ability to rewire our brains in alarming ways is an amazing thing.

To state the obvious, our opinions in sport are largely driven by who we support and opinions previously stated. Logic, whatever that is, gets a right good kicking. Rugby, a giant grey area wrapped up in a riddle, is particularly fertile for this insidious business.

One thing is certain. Off the field, McCaw has again shown himself to be a class act. Then again, those who don't like McCaw might argue with that. You often can't win in sports arguments, which is a large part of what sport is all about.

- NZ Herald

Chris Rattue

Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Rattue writes about a wide range of sports for the New Zealand Herald. He has covered numerous sporting events for the Herald including Rugby World Cups and the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Read more by Chris Rattue

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