Richie McCaw – broken foot, broken rib, play on…
Playing for the All Blacks since late 2001, Richie McCaw has remained the incumbent Number 7 since 2003, and captain since 2006. One of New Zealand’s greatest rugby players, McCaw has been a talisman for victory during his tenure with the team. The chart below lists the mounting injuries McCaw had acquired prior to his six month sabbatical in 2012/2013. The chart does not include the knee to the face and headbutt from Scott Higginbotham in the subsequent test!
What makes McCaw’s longevity so amazing is the fact he plays Openside Flanker. “As scavengers for possession in and around the rucks and mauls, they are often faced with 50-50 balls and therefore need to put their bodies on the line with little thought for the consequences.”
He played through the later stages of the 2011 Rugby World Cup tournament with a broken foot, refusing to allow it to be X-rayed. The nation was already in panic after vice captain Dan Carter’s tournament ending injury and McCaw was determined not to pull out. He contented himself with painkillers and kept the extent of the injury from his coaches. In the presence of the team and the media he grit his teeth and tried to walk normally. The seriousness of the injury was made all the more amazing after the final whistle blew and Richie’s All Blacks were once again world champions!
Following the third and final Test match against England in June 2014, a scan revealed that McCaw had been playing with a broken rib for three weeks. He and the doctor had believed it to be bruising and McCaw continued to train and play International Test rugby against the much vaunted muscle of the English Forward pack. Think about that for a minute. Playing one of the most physical of all contact sports for at least 180 minutes at International level. The guy must routinely beat pain in staring contests!