Former All Blacks captain Richie McCaw has opened up on how the darkest day in his rugby career became his greatest life lesson.

Speaking on Radio Hauraki's 'A Few Good Men podcast', McCaw recalled how tough the All Black's 2007 World Cup quarterfinal loss to France was for him at the time.

But now, looking back on it as a turning point, McCaw credited that dark day as one of the reasons he went on to lead the All Blacks to redemption and win the 2011 and 2015 World Cups.

"People ask me what is the worst thing that happened to you in rugby? For a while, I'd say the 2007 World Cup quarter-final but probably now I'd say it was one of the best things that happened to me," McCaw said

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" I wouldn't have put the time and effort and work into what happened for the [next] eight years … I don't think the All Blacks would have been successful for the [following] eight years had we not gone through that.

"Yes, it was tough at the time but the learnings we got out of it and where it took us, the path it took us, wouldn't have happened if we hadn't gone through that.

"It showed you how tough it is to actually win a World Cup. It put that right in perspective. You never took anything for granted after that."

Richie McCaw adventure racing. Photo / Getty
Richie McCaw adventure racing. Photo / Getty

Since hanging up his boots, McCaw has refocused his competitiveness to the world of adventure racing, adding that the valuable lesson he learned in the 2007 event had motivated him to continue challenging himself.

"I always said, 'what am I going to miss from not playing rugby?' It's the challenge but also the learning. I think if you haven't got something you are trying to get to or be better at, then you are just going to plateau and you're just going to turn up and it's going to be the same old.

"Whereas if you've got something you really want to figure out so that you're not on a plateau, then you are going to have a purpose to get out of bed each day.

"There's a real learning every day, every time you do something … you're not the finished article. And that's what life is all about in my eyes … being a parent, you are learning every day."